The Uproar

Congressman Rothfus meets with NASH students

The Republican incumbent fielded questions in a town hall format in the NASH Library

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Congressman Rothfus meets with NASH students

Juniors and seniors filled the NASH library to have a conversation with their local Congressman.

Juniors and seniors filled the NASH library to have a conversation with their local Congressman.

photo by Kaycee Orwig

Juniors and seniors filled the NASH library to have a conversation with their local Congressman.

photo by Kaycee Orwig

photo by Kaycee Orwig

Juniors and seniors filled the NASH library to have a conversation with their local Congressman.

Pavle Djokic, Director of Digital Meda

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The November 2018 election in PA’s District 17 is attracting national attention, and Congressmen Keith Rothfus and Conor Lamb are taking every opportunity to promote their campaigns at the local level.  Last Friday, Rothfus visited NASH to answer student questions in a town hall format.  With the upcoming midterm elections in November of 2018, many of the students who attended the Rothfus talk in the library are also potential voters  in the fall.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids our age to see who their elected officials are and what they stand for,” senior Zach Shuckrow said.

Rothfus did not undervalue the potential that sat before him. “It’s important that you get engaged, be engaged, and stay engaged,” he told his young audience.

In November, Rothfus will face off against Lamb, the only election that will feature two sitting Congressmen, due to Pennsylvania’s congressional districts being redrawn. The changes came in response to gerrymandering.

The NASH event was organized by Social Studies teacher Jamey Pirring, who opened up a Google form that invited students to create questions for the Congressman. Pirring then had both a Republican and Democrat teacher work together to choose ten questions that they felt best represented the student voice as a whole.

One student asked whether the federal government should do more to alleviate the student loans and debt that many graduates face. In response, the Congressman emphasized that the federal government does in fact give billions in assistance but also pointed out that there’s a responsibility on both the student and college as well.

“Colleges have a responsibility to manage the debt of the individuals they serve,” Rothfus said, adding that post-secondary academic institutions must point out the risks that certain majors have in term of job prospects and also be more accountable for how they structure their tuition rates, which have been growing at twice the inflation rate in the past decade.

Rothfus also emphasized that students need to be aware that their options include not only traditional four-year public and private schools but also two-year associate degrees and trade schools, which can offer six-figure salaries only a few years out of apprenticeship.

The topic then shifted to the current presidency and whether Trump upholds the values of the Republican Party. Rothfus approached the subject by looking at how Trump is passing Republican bills that align with the party’s policies.

While Rothfus took issue with some of Trump’s antagonistic rhetoric, he pointed out that “fake news really is a thing.”

Perhaps the most hotly debated moment of the day was when a student challenged the Congressman’s stance on abortion and asked if he believes in allowing for certain exceptions in special circumstances. The Congressman said that he may but added that the situation is very difficult and personal. Rothfus described his stance as one founded on a “culture of life.”

As a final question, Pirring challenged the Congressman on the issue of school safety, the topic most commonly referenced in the questions students submitted. Rothfus first discussed the need to improve the safeguards already in place — the background check system and providing gap analysis on police response and school safety — measures which were ineffective in recent school shootings like Parkland, Florida. The Congressman also stated that the issue must be a “cultural conversation,” adding that school shootings did not occur nearly as often in previous generations. Finally, Rothfus stated that he wanted to avoid “criminalizing law-abiding citizens” by making rash gun control laws rather than fixing other aspects of the issue.

“I was encouraged by the increase in dialogue this caused between the political spheres around the building,” senior Arlen Belitsky said.

Pirring was also pleased with the event. “Not everyone recognizes the opportunity to have a face to face dialogue with their elected leaders,” he said.

On Monday, June 4th, during 11th period, Congressman Lamb will be speaking to students in the same manner in the Chorus Room.

About the Writer
Pavle Djokic, Director of Digital Media

Pavle Djokic is the trendy Social Media Director of the NASH Uproar.  He has navigated his journey through North Allegheny and is now a Senior.  With...

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