Hillary Clinton made her way to the University of Connecticut on Wednesday and encouraged students to be active members of the “participation generation.”
“Visiting a campus like here at UConn, I am inspired by what I have read, about how participation is alive and thriving,” Clinton, the former Secretary of State, said. “So, when I look at this audience and look out more broadly at students and young people across our country I am hopeful, and we desperately need your energy and your talents. In other words, we need your participation.”
Clinton urged the millennials in the audience, whom she described as “confident, connected and open to change,” to participate by voting, particularly for candidates who believe in compromise.
“If you don’t vote then you really can’t complain about what’s happening in Washington,” Clinton said.
While Clinton made her pitch for participation very clear, she made no suggestion in regard to her own participation as a candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
But, Clinton did not shy away from talking immigration, foreign policy, and whistleblower Edward Snowden in a subsequent question and answer session led by UConn President Susan Herbst.
The six questions asked were chosen from hundreds of student submissions. She also fielded questions regarding the changing nature of journalism and partisanship in Washington.
The event was sponsored by the Fusco family of New Haven as a part of the Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum in partnership with the university.
“Through these forums, members of the UConn community are given the opportunity to challenge and expand their views on topics of profound and lasting influence,” according to the forum’s webpage.
Roughly 2,300 people attended the event. About 70 percent of the audience was comprised of students and the other 30 percent was made up of news media, faculty, and guests, including former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and current U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a onetime Yale Law School classmate of Clinton’s.
Lynn Fusco, who attended the event on behalf of the Fusco family, did not say exactly how much a high-profile speaker like Clinton cost the family. But, Deidre Goodrich of the UConn Foundation suggested that it was in the ballpark of about $200,000.
Goodrich called it an investment in UConn.
“This is really going to do wonders for raising the profile of this university,” Goodrich said. “It’s really an investment in the future.”
The event was closed to the public, and members of the UConn community were entered in a lottery system in order to receive the free tickets.
“I was really excited when I opened my email that day and found out that I had won the lottery for tickets,” Erica Gusler, a junior communications major, said. “To have her come to our school of all schools was very cool,” she said.
Clinton did not leave Storrs without congratulating the Huskies on their March Madness victories. She also received some UConn baby gear by Herbst who joked, “we heard the rumor that you’re going to be a grandma.”
Earlier in the day, Clinton attended a women’s leadership conference in Boston where she addressed a crowd of about 3,500 women.