Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Governor Maura Healey visits Amherst College for Q&A session

Healey urges students to seek the truth
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, Amherst College hosted Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey for a question-and-answer session where she highlighted the importance of preserving democracy in the current political climate and encouraged students and young people to promote truth by fact-checking and fighting against fake news.

The main sentiment Governor Healey left Amherst College students with was to “do the research [and] check the facts.” She said, “it is understandable to be frustrated because you all have inherited problems … not of your own making,” but encouraged young people to hold on to hope. She emphasized the important role of local politics and journalism in preserving democracy.

The talk was moderated by Amherst College President Michael Elliott, who opened the talk by acknowledging the deeply polarized and uncertain political climate we currently live in. “We live in a moment where the problems that face us seem insurmountable,” he said.

Recently, the college donated $1 million to the Jones Public Library for its expansion and renovation project. Elliott said public libraries are essential in protecting democracy, as they allow communities to educate themselves and engage with differing perspectives.

Healey, the 73rd Massachusetts governor began by talking about her journey into the political sphere. When completing her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, she said she had no idea what career she wanted to pursue and would have never pictured herself running for office.

A lifelong athlete, Healey graduated college and went on to play professional basketball in Austria for a few years. The governor said she was just buying time at that point in her life, trying to figure out what she really wanted to do.

Before running for governor, Healey had an extensive career in the legal field. She was at the forefront of the first successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which placed federal bans on same-sex marriage, and she served as the state attorney general for two consecutive terms. Healey is the first openly LGBTQ+ Massachusetts governor.

Healey called upon Amherst College and other private institutions to facilitate outreach towards the local community that surrounds them.

Healey said right now, there is a local young person who would never think Amherst College is an option for them and urged college students to get involved by volunteering and tutoring at local public schools and in the Amherst community.

“The single best way to make change is to be the change maker,” she said. “You will leave Amherst College with a privilege that not everyone had … and with that comes a huge responsibility … the world needs you.”

Healey also acknowledged the current high cost of living in Massachusetts and the inefficiency of public transportation, which is a great concern of hers. Healey referenced the recent allocation of $375 million across Massachusetts for towns to improve road quality and transportation services.

When the event ended around 7 p.m., students from the University of Massachusetts Dissenters, Students for Justice in Palestine and Amherst for Palestine exercised their right to assemble outside the entrance of Johnson Chapel, where the event was held.

Around 100 students gathered to chant in protest “Amherst stands with Palestine” and “free free Palestine.” The protesters also handed out flyers urging Governor Healey to issue a statement “condemn[ing] Israel state violence against Palestinian civilians.”

Grace Lee can be reached at [email protected].

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