By Charles Borsos
BU News Service
Durham, N.H. — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spoke at the College Compact Event on Wednesday, hosted by the University of New Hampshire. Clinton and Sanders spent the majority of their time discussing Clinton’s plan for debt free college in the United States.
That plan included making public universities and colleges in the United States tuition-free, debt relief for those going into the civil service and refinancing for loans already issued.
“Is everyone ready to transform America?” Sanders asked after taking the stage. The crowd cheered, showing its lasting enthusiasm for Clinton’s primary challenger.
Sanders said he was looking forward to working with Clinton and began outlining the status of higher education in the United States. Sanders said that 40 or 50 years ago, Americans could walk into a business with a high school degree and walk out with a job. Today, however, people need college degrees.
“We used to lead the world. Now we are number 15,” Sanders said in reference to the proportion of the U.S. workforce with a college education. For the richest nation in history, Sanders said this was unacceptable. Sanders also said that critics described Clinton’s plan as a “good idea, but expensive.” His response to the criticism was simple: “I’ll tell you what’s more expensive: doing nothing.”
Clinton began by addressing Sanders’ contribution and place in the campaign. Clinton and Sanders both made sure to emphasize that they are now working together — an effort to reach Sanders supporters hesitant to back Clinton. Early in her speech, Clinton mention how “Bernie’s campaign energized so many young people,” noting that some avid supporters were possibly present at the rally.
While Clinton was bordered by young people on the platform, most students who had lined up outside appeared to have been turned away. The Deputy Fire Chief stated that just shy of 1,000 people were let into the space, but only those on the platform and a side set of bleachers appeared to be students. Nearly the whole floor of chairs was filled by older constituents. After a few attempts to get chants going failed, it was clear that this was not a college crowd.
Yet Clinton continued to reach out to student voters, as evidenced by her attempts to demonstrate a dedication to technology.
“You know we have technology in America, let’s use it,” Clinton said. She then directed people to go to her website to try out a student-debt calculator as a visual presentation ran next to her on a display screen. She later directed the crowd to another website to check voter registration and said voters could check their registration status “through the miracle of technology.”
Students at the rally praised this inclusion of technology.
“Technology is 2016,” said Aaron Soroa-Alvarez, an attendee from the University of New Hampshire. His classmate Javen Morse said Clinton showed that she wasn’t “lost in the times.”
Both Soroa-Alvarez and Morse voted for Sanders in the primary race. Soroa-Alvarez said that Sanders’ campaigning with Clinton was a “power move.” The students said that they were now in full support of Clinton’s campaign.
Other students in attendance said they were Clinton supporters from the get-go.
Caroline Taylor, also a UNH student, said she thought Clinton would be able to get more things done, including getting elected. Clinton needs both groups to coalesce behind her this November, Taylor said, and having Sanders behind her was part of the strategy to consolidate the student vote.