8/28/21 Sen. Bernie Sanders Town Hall, Sanders Looking Focused

Sen. Bernie Sanders listens to the community representatives before the Q&A portion of the town hall event. 

It’s official, Bernie Sanders likes his mittens meme.

At least, that’s what he said when the Exponent interviewed the Democratic Vermont Senator before his town hall on Friday.

Q. How will the infrastructure bill affect us as college students, especially at a large public university?

What it will do for young people is, (we) will significantly increase federal pell grants. We’re putting a lot of money into historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions with minority students. I think for young people, this bill is the boldest attempt to address the climate change crisis. (It also) includes the creation of a civilian climate corp which will create thousands of well-paying jobs for young people, which comes with significant educational benefits.

Q. The next stops on your tour include Detroit, Michigan and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, both known for their colleges. Along with West Lafayette, did you intentionally choose to visit college towns?

No, not really. We just needed a large open space in the Midwest where we could seat quite a few people. It just happened to be West Lafayette in Indiana.

Q. Why did you choose to come to the amphitheater rather than Purdue’s campus?

This (town hall) isn’t just for students. The bill provides for working class families in Indiana as well as students. It applies to people young and old and everyone in between.

Q. Student debt is shaping up to be one of the biggest problems of our generation. How do you solve that problem when even your colleagues in the Democratic party disagree with your views?

My own personal feeling is we should end all student debt, but obviously not all of my colleagues agree. (Your) generation will be the first to grow up with a lower standard of living and more debt than your parents and that needs to change.

Q. What are your thoughts on vaccines and making them mandatory in universities?

Ninety-eight percent of people in hospitals because of COVID-19 are unvaccinated, so I think it’s very clear that being vaccinated is keeping us alive. I think that universities have the right to say, if you want to be here, you don’t have the right to spread the virus. Get vaccinated.

Q. What tips do you have for students and Americans at large for dealing with mental health issues?

In this bill, (and) we’ve put money into previous legislation with the rescue plan. And in this bill there will definitely be money to address the ongoing mental health crisis. It’s a really interesting thing, when you look at the polls. I mean, I am chairman of the budget committee and I’m here on behalf of that position to discuss this bill. And I see that on issue after issue that we talk about, working-class Americans are solidly behind us.

Protesters chanted “Go home Bernie” as he answered that question.

Q. And probably the most important question, have you seen the meme of you and do you like it?

Which one?

Q. The one of you with the mittens. At the inauguration.

Oh, have I seen that! What can I tell you about it? I simply went to the inauguration. It was cold. Those are my mittens, I wear them all the time in the winter. Little did I know they would become a worldwide meme. It surprised me.

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