The Commission on Campus Civic Engagement (CCCE) hosted their Pizza & Politics event at Sacred Heart University on Tuesday Feb. 21 in the East Theater at West Campus. It was the first installment of the Ramos-Rose Political Speaker Series organized by the CCCE, a nonpartisan club at SHU, and featured special guest Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Senator Blumenthal is currently serving in his third term as Democratic United States Senator representing the state of Connecticut. The discussion was structured in a question-and-answer format where he mainly addressed topics regarding contemporary domestic and foreign policy issues.
The event was hosted and moderated by Political Science Professor, Dr. Gary Rose, and Senior, Student Government President, and Spectrum Editor, Alejandro Ramos.
“I think it is important for students to see who represents them rather than just seeing a name on a website and not knowing who they are,” said Ramos. “Presence is key.”
Much of the conversation focused on the Ukraine War, which on Feb. 24 marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. The discussion also covered China’s potential invasion into Taiwan and the United States’ position as a global superpower and what that means when it comes to assisting other nations struggling through conflict
“Everyone thinks that the war in Ukraine is such a polarizing issue, but it’s really a bipartisan issue here in America,” said Ramos. “We can’t allow democracy to fall in Ukraine or in Taiwan; we must do what we can to assist them because if we don’t, our democracy will also be at stake.
Senator Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services, has traveled to Ukraine three times in the past year to meet with President Zelenskyy. The day before his visit to SHU, Senator Blumenthal had just returned from Germany where he attended the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a forum about international security policy led by Blumenthal himself along with U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
“We should provide Ukraine with whatever they need, for as long as it takes, and more quickly,” said Blumenthal. “I believe that the fight in Ukraine is not just about Ukraine, it’s also about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and our freedom because what Putin wants to do is divide and disrupt western democracy.”
Senator Blumenthal stated that the U.S. has no intention of sending troops to Ukraine and that President Zelenskyy does not want or need American aid on the ground right now.
“The people of Ukraine live under a reign of terror,” said Blumenthal. “We should be providing them with more air defense equipment and drones. If we give them the weapons they need, they can do the job themselves.”
Junior Molly Jacob was a spectator at the event.
“I really enjoyed the event and was able to take away a better understanding of Senator Blumenthal’s perspectives on different issues and the impact he has on our country,” said Jacob. “My favorite part was having the chance to speak with him one on one because it felt like we were getting to know him on a more personal level.”
Conn. Senator Chris Murphy, Governor Ned Lamont, and Congressman Jim Himes have all been invited to campus as potential guests for the Ramos-Rose Political Speaker Series.
“Although I think it’s beneficial to have these politicians as possible guests because they are representatives for the district that Sacred Heart represents, they are all Democrats,” said Ramos. “It is important to bring in members from the other side of the aisle to showcase other perspectives and have healthy conversations with those who may not necessarily have the same political views as you.”
Ramos hinted that one of the next speakers may be a Republican candidate running for President in 2024.
“I believe it is absolutely essential to bring political officials into speak to college students,” said Rose. “While we do promote public service at this university, I think it is still very important for students to not only hear about it, but to see and talk to individuals who live it.”