Members of Congress Visit Campus to Speak with Students

Members+of+Congress+Visit+Campus+to+Speak+with+Students

Isabella Balian, Staff Writer

Last week, Villanova Democrats hosted Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Congressman Joseph Neguse on campus to facilitate a discussion regarding issues that matter to them and their experiences in Congress. The event began with brief introductions, followed by a discussion of a wide range of topics and ended with a Q&A session where students were able to hear directly from the representatives. 

Congresswoman Scanlon represents Pennsylvania’s 5th District and has a long history of advocating for children and families from her time as a pro bono attorney to her time serving in Congress. Some of her main advocacy areas include voting rights, common sense gun reform, education and combating hunger. Scanlon serves on many caucuses, some including LGBT Equality Caucus, Black Maternal Health Caucus, Women in STEM Caucus and many more. Additionally, she serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Committee on Rules, and she is the Vice Chair of the House Administration Committee. 

Congressman Neguse represents Colorado’s 2nd District. Prior to serving in Congress, he was a member of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents. He made history when elected in 2018 as the first African American member of Congress in Colorado’s history. 

Some of his most passionate areas of interest include fostering a more affordable college education, economic opportunity for all, green energy and environmental protection. Representative Neguse serves on many committees and caucuses including the House Judiciary Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and the Pro-Choice Caucus. Neguse is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is dedicated to ensuring that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. 

Neguse told the students about how his parents immigrated to the United States from Eritrea 40 years ago. He discussed the way in which his parents’ history has led him to be an active participant in democracy and give back to his community through public service. Scanlon and Neguse discussed their joint service and work in the House Judiciary Committee, which put them at the forefront of the many critical challenges facing our democracy today. 

When asked about the importance of diversity within Congress, both Neguse and Scanlon expressed their belief that a diverse and inclusive body of Congress provides the chance for more success. They stated that a diverse Congress allows attention to be directed to a larger range of issues, and gives light to ideological diversities even within the Democratic group. Scanlon brought up the Black Maternal Health Coalition and the way it fostered a larger range of attention to lots of different communities. The Black Maternal Health Caucus is organized around the goals of elevating the Black maternal health crisis within Congress and advancing policy solutions to improve maternal health outcomes and end disparities.

The session ended with Neguse posing a question to students. He asked what college students considered the most important political issues polarizing the country. Students responded with a variety of answers, including the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, forgiving student debt and issues surrounding gun violence. 

Both Neguse and Scanlon ended by giving the students a piece of advice: they encouraged the students to advocate for public policy change by becoming passionate about political and social issues and making the most of opportunities at the University.