By Isha Trivedi '19
On Friday, March 23, AP U.S. Government and Politics, Spanish III Honors, and Peace and Social Justice classes had the opportunity to hear representative Zoe Lofgren of the 19th Congressional district speak at Notre Dame.
At the event, student facilitators asked questions regarding the logistics and policies involved in local government, as well as Lofgren’s stance on, and experience with, immigration reform. As the first female representative for her district and with her experience as an immigration lawyer during the early years in her career, Lofgren has faced challenges and worked hard to get where she is today. A Bay Area resident since childhood, Lofgren uses her experience living with the community that she represents to act in their best interests––from immigration reform to homelessness, she tackles multiple issues all the way in Washington and also right here in California at San Jose City Hall.
As a woman working in politics, Lofgren has faced a significant amount of sexism in her career. However, her experience with this struggle has also taught her a great deal. She said, “if I’m not going to be taken seriously, I’m going to be the most prepared person in the room.” Her advice resonated with many students.
Aside from discussing the topics she focuses on as a representative, Lofgren also gave students advice on how to have a bigger impact on local politics. The most significant action she said that students can make is to vote, but as most ND students are under the age of 18, she recommended that those of ages 16 or 17 register early to vote (which is legal in California). She also suggested that students volunteer, join campaigns, and participate in demonstrations to make their voices heard. She also shared that the most important thing students can do to ensure a better future is to understand the power that they have as young people and the rights they have as Americans.
Overall, students were able to get a closer glimpse into the inner workings of the processes involved in making decisions for local government, and learned more about the policies and views of one of their representatives. Representative Lofgren’s visit was both inspiring and educational, and helped students gain a deeper understanding of the political decisions that happen on the local level.