In the midst of the final weeks of the spring 2016 semester, students, professors, alumni and community members lined up outside Pucillo gymnasium to hear Democratic presidential candidate, and Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, address PA residents.
MU College Democrats president Olivia Stoner did the work of inviting Sanders and making the event possible.
“I had previously reached out to Senator Sanders’ campaign through social media and their webpage. I was lucky enough to be put in touch with someone on his campaign team,” Sanders says. “Through a lot of emails and phone calls we were finally able to make this happen.”
The public began lining up in front of the main entrance of Pucillo at 10 a.m. on Friday, according to several participants at the rally. In order to pass the time, several campaign volunteers were selling t-shirts, hats, signs and buttons. Dining Services also placed the University Food Truck on Pucillo Drive and made sure individuals had enough access to food and water.
By the time Pucillo was overflowing with people, crowds, several bands and speakers took the stage in order to warm the public up. Red Beluga from Millersville’s music program performed songs by Janice Joplin and several other artists from the 1960s and MU alum Nelly Torres discussed discrimination and health care policies.
“If Martin Luther King, Jr., were here today, he’d vote for Bernie,” Torres told the crowd.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said she believes Bernie Sanders could make a fundamental difference in foreign diplomacy and veteran’s health care.
“Bernie Sanders will honor our veterans as President, and make sure their needs are served,” Gabbard said.
The crowd was already fired up as Sanders began his address, with about 2,800 individuals attempting to listen to Sen. Sanders’ speech. The maximum capacity for Pucillo is approximately 2,300.
“Sounds like you are ready for a political revolution,” Sanders told MU as he began his speech.
Sanders began his oration by commenting on the status of corporate media.
“Do not allow media or establishment to convince you that we cannot make fundamental changes in this country,” he told the audience at Millersville.
He also commented on his rally earlier that day in Gettysburg. He said that President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in particular inspired him.
“We need to make certain our government is a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” he declared.
In between cries and chants, Sanders addressed several civil rights issues that he plans to change for a range of Americans, such as LGBT rights, equal pay for women, Native American rights and adequate care for individuals with disabilities.
“Women are tired of getting 79 cents on the dollar,” he stated. “They want to have the whole damn dollar!”
Sanders also declared his contempt for the criminal justice system.
“I beg of you, think outside the box,” Sanders said. “Why are a disproportionate amount of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans in jail?”
Sen. Sanders also took the opportunity of speaking at a university to address the issue of the student debt crisis.
“We should not be punishing people for doing the right thing and getting an education,” he said.
He also listed several differences between himself and Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, such as political finance and Wall Street reform.
“$7.25 is a starvation wage,” he declared to the audience. “Clinton wants to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, which is simply not enough.”
Sen. Sanders then addressed a topical issue for PA voters: the Keystone pipeline. He stated that Clinton supports creating the pipeline, whereas he does not.
“Secretary Clinton actively pushed fracking when she was Secretary of State,” he told MU. “Our job is to break our dependence on fossil fuel.”
As for the other candidates in the race, he told the audience not to worry.
“Donald Trump is not going to become the President; I haven’t seen a poll in which he beats me,” Sanders said. “Donald Trump will not become President because the American people understand that bringing our people together, whether we’re black or white or Latino or Asian American or Native American, bringing our people together always trumps dividing us up. Most importantly, what the American people understand is that love trumps hatred.”
“Let’s make sure Pennsylvania leads this country into the political revolution,” he said as he concluded his speech.
Pennsylvania residents will be voting in the primaries on Tuesday, April 26. To get in touch with the College Democrats of MU, contact them on Facebook.