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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Alumni

Warren packs UH town hall in her ‘homecoming’


Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a town hall in the Houston room of the Student Center South Friday afternoon where she took questions and told about her past at the University of Houston. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a town hall in the Houston room of the Student Center South Friday afternoon where she took questions and told about her past at the University of Houston. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

In front of a giant Texas flag and a crowd of more than two thousand people packed into the Houston room and an overflow room, presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday talked about her time at UH and plans for the future.

“This is a homecoming for me,” Warren said.

Advertised as a town hall, the senator answered only three crowd questions before the conclusion of the event. Warren graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology. She also taught at the Law Center for five years beginning in the late ’70s.

“I thought I had lost the dream,” Warren said. “So here I am young, newly married, living about 45 minutes away from the University right now, and that’s when I found the University of Houston, for $50 a semester.”

Warren started the event by telling a story that has stuck with her throughout her life. When she was a child, she said, her mother tucked her in one night and when she closed the door she could hear her crying. That’s the first time she heard words like bankruptcy and mortgage, Warren said. Words that would become a key part of her work later in life.

She talked of her time at UH, explaining the cheap tuition allowed her to continue her education, and eventually graduate. Addressing the criticisms of her references to UH as a commuter school, she explained that the University was exactly that during the time she attended.

“So what I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job, I was able to finish a four year diploma, graduate, and become a special needs teacher,” Warren said. “I have lived my dream job.”

After she talked about her background, Warren outlined a few policy initiatives. The one she talked about most Friday night was her plan to offer free universal child care to all children up until the age of five.

Warren said this would have helped her tremendously during her time at UH. She talked about a call she had with her aunt where she decided to quit her job due to lack of child care.

“I said, ‘I’m going to quit my job.’ and I burst into tears and I cried and I sobbed and I heaved and I couldn’t do it. I told her I was failing everybody,” Warren said. “My aunt waits, and she doesn’t say ‘there, there.’ She waits, and she finally says, ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I can be there on Thursday.’ ”

Warren said that if everybody had an aunt like hers that America would be doing great.

Lastly, she answered three questions at the end of the event. The first person asked if Warren’s perspective cabinet would be diverse. She promised it would.

“I think if you want to understand what somebody is going to be like as president, look what they’re like right now,” Warren said. “I have walked the walk and have a campaign team that looks like America.”

The second question asked what she would say to critics who cite her age as a reason she should not be elected. Warren answered first by asking if that same question would be asked to a man her age. She continued by mentioning her first senate race where she beat incumbent republican Scott Brown. She said that she has won in the past and will do it again, and age did not affect that.

Warren closed by skirting around the question of how she would fix the ongoing Flint, Michigan water crisis.

“The water in Flint is a national embarrassment to this country,” she said. “It is the worst combination of people who make bad decisions and are never held accountable to it and a refusal by government, both in Michigan and in Washington to work for the people. Every question keeps coming back, to me, to this central point, who does government work for?”

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