In the days leading up to the 2020 election, REAP students had a chance to hear directly from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley on issues ranging from systemic racism and education to how students can get involved in politics.
The opportunity came through REAP’s latest “The Next Wave of Leaders” show, held via Zoom on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. The show featured Oregon’s two U.S. senators fielding a range of questions from REAP students around the metro region
“Oregon is in really good hands when there are thoughtful students like yourselves raising such important issues in an informed way,” Wyden said to attendees.
The show included a panel of REAP students, Tania Izquierdo and Michael Sorenson, and REAP youth essentials coordinator Esther Hardy, all of whom asked questions that had been submitted by other students.
In response to one question about what the senators have been working on in the realm of student mental health, Merkley said the issue has become even more important in the wake of COVID-19.
“Right now, the mental health of our students is really, really declining,” he said. “We’ve got to get through this COVID and get back to a normal rhythm . . . Meanwhile, while there are risks of being in a school setting, there’s also a risk to being isolated, and mental health is one of them.”
Students also asked about broadband Internet access for minority students during the pandemic, gun violence legislation and what could be done on a legislative level to further student success in schools. Merkley closed the conversation by mentioning his support for the Justice in Policing Act – a law aimed at police accountability – and addressing systemic racism in voting, while Wyden said talks like these with students and helpful and will continue.
“This discussion, from my point, isn’t over,” he said. “It’s in the to-be-continued department.”
You can watch the entire discussion here.
The Next Wave of Leaders Show – with Senators Wyden and Merkley
REAP students hosted an incredible discussion with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley last month.
Topics ranged from students’ mental health to racism and even how Wyden once thought he could play pro basketball! Our student leaders did an excellent job leading the discussion. You can watch the video here.