Nearly a week after the Senate reopened the government after last week’s budget showdown between President Trump and Senate leaders over his border wall and DACA, Rhode Island U.S Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will attend an event hosted by the URI College Democrats, “Weekends with Whitehouse,” in Quinn Hall.

Joe Caiazzo, the campaign manager for Senator Whitehouse’s 2018 re-election campaign, said that event “will be town-hall style event and the Senator will offer some brief remarks then open it up to questions and answer.”

College Democrats President Andy Boardman expects to see town hall attendees and Senator Whitehouse use the time to discuss “the Senator’s efforts on issues that are important to students and young Rhode Islanders.” Boardman highlights the issue of affordable college tuition as one of the most important issues he hopes Senator Whitehouse will address. Boardman also expects Senator Whitehouse will discuss and propose solutions to solve these issues that many URI students and college students around the country face.

URI Political Science Professor and Director of the Graduate Program Marc Hutchinson said that in addition to specific issues that college students face, Senator Whitehouse may focus on “one of the issues that is concerning to him, which is climate change, especially after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris Accord.”

Senator Whitehouse visited URI last year for a similar town hall meeting where he specifically addressed concerns on immigration issues in the wake of the Trump administration’s revised ban on travel from the majority of Muslim nations. It is likely that Whitehouse will again try to quell the unease among his constituents and lay out policy solutions that protect immigrants.

Emily O’Neil, a freshman English and political science double major, is looking to leave the town hall not only with policy proposals, but “with some hope for the future. I’d like to hear that progressive action is underway in the Senate and that there’s a plan to actually make it successful.”

Whereas URI College Republicans President Ed Tarnowski believes that, “Senator Whitehouse is incredibly out of touch with average Rhode Islanders and fails to address the economic concerns that many of them currently hold.” Tarnowski says that members of the College Republicans will attend the meeting to “question Senator Whitehouse’s refusal to work in a bipartisan fashion in the Senate.”

This meeting will certainly be an opportunity for Senator Whitehouse to hear the concerns of Rhode Island students on issues ranging from climate change to college affordability and address the concerns and grievances of his constituents. This is a unique opportunity for URI students to meet with their Senator in Congress and discuss important issues.   

The Town Hall is free and open to the public, however you must RSVP on Senator Whitehouse’s campaign website. The event will be held in Quinn Hall Auditorium from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 3.