By Kaitlyn McCormick
Declan O’Scanlon, a New Jersey state senator representing the 13th Legislative District, kicked off this fall’s first Rebovich Institute evening at Rider with a beer in hand and jokes at the ready.
The Republican representative kept the packed audience’s attention in room 202 of Lynch Adler Hall on Oct. 4 throughout hours-long, open-format discussions covering topics anywhere from red light cameras to abortion laws.
O’Scanlon took a step off of the campaign trail to speak with the Rider community.
After introducing himself, his platform and his viewpoints, O’Scanlon participated in some moderated questions from Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics Director Micah Rasmussen, who organized the event, before fielding questions from audience members.
People in the Rider community, the surrounding Lawrenceville area and members of the student body and administration showed up for the conversation with the senator.
While O’Scanlon represents the Republican Party, he encouraged college students from all affiliations to get involved and be aware of what is happening around them politically, especially at the local level.
“We have an epidemic of people not giving a damn,” O’Scanlon said to The Rider News after the event. “These issues impact young people more than they impact those of us who are making the decisions.”
Freshman political science major Eden Nadella shared the same sentiment in an interview with The Rider News.
Nadella had the role of introducing O’Scanlon though she says that her political ideologies tend to lean more democratic in comparison to the senator’s. However, she believes college students should take the opportunity to expose themselves to as many conversations as possible.
“It’s just important to see how these parties are in reality…Not everything is on the extreme left or on the extreme right,” Nadella said.
Providing plenty of perspectives
Rasmussen and The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics bring local politicians to campus for these discussion forums every year, with a variety of political affiliations.
Rasmussen explained the effort that goes into providing equal opportunities for students to hear from representatives who may share or challenge their own political viewpoints.
“I’m not trying to shield students from any point of view,” Rasmussen said. “I want them to focus on all points of view.”
In the past, The Rebovich Institute has fostered conversations at Rider with General Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Congressman Andy Kim, Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho and even former New Jersey Governor James Florio.
For those who may be interested in a more Democratic viewpoint, the next event will invite New Jersey’s longest-serving chief of staff, George Helmy, with a date, time and place to be announced, Rasmussen said.