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Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon Takes On Haverford in Town Hall

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon has been working to connect with Haverford students, most recently through a town hall last month. This election season, she is once again hoping to cinch the midterms. The Haverford College Democrats, a student-run, on-campus organization, hosted a virtual town hall in late February in order to give Scanlon a chance to interact with the student demographic. Luke Mandel ’24,  played an important role in facilitating the event, having interned with Scanlon previously. The brief, hour-long Q&A session was overseen by Faith King, a district scheduler for the Congresswoman. 

The evening’s slated topics were climate change and student debt, although other relevant events on the world stage were discussed as well, most notably Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One of the first questions posed was whether the U.S. would be accepting Ukrainian refugees. Scanlon answered that she was thoroughly in favor of this, stating that refugees would be given Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for resettlement from Kyiv, working under limited conditions. Scanlon firmly stated her position on the invasion of Ukraine, noting that Putin has “reached the levels of a megalomaniac” and emphatically declaring her support for President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. She also took care to restate the urgency of the moment, noting the deployment of NATO and Biden’s continuing sanctions on the invading Russian regime, as well as mentioning obstacles the invasion has faced, including protests by the Russian constituency and attacks on belligerent aircraft. 

Next on the agenda was the announcement of President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, where, if confirmed, she would fill the seat of the retiring Stephen Breyer and serve as the first Black female justice. Jackson acquired national acclaim through her work on Donald Trump’s second impeachment case.  Unlike other members of the Court, she also has a background as a public defender. Finally, Scanlon affirmed her support for important rights such as Miranda rights and probable cause. 

Despite an initial focus on hot-button issues, some students were able to rein it back to the topics of the meeting. One student, Marcos Yoc Bautista ’24, put Scanlon on the hot seat, asking whether the Democratic Party had a cohesive bill that would address the crippling debt students face after graduation and the changing weather conditions around the globe. In true political composure, Scanlon was most ambivalent about this question, declining to give a clear answer about a targeted bill and citing barriers to package movement in the Senate due to Republican control, mainly through the strategic use of filibuster and supermajority requirements.

All in all, the event ran fairly smoothly and was productive and well-conducted. The Congresswoman was open to responding to every question, even if to the vaguest extent. She expressed a wide scope of political knowledge in her responses. Despite the opportunity as an open forum for students to address their questions about the Democratic Party, attendance was low, with about 20 students present at the meeting.

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