Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) encouraged students to make their voices heard and spoke out against targeting online music sharers in a speech at the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom Tuesday night.
About 60 students attended the event, sponsored by the College Republicans.
Coleman was elected to the Senate in November 2002, filling a post previously held by the late Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash several weeks before he was slated to face off Coleman in an election. Before taking his senatorial seat, Coleman served as mayor of St. Paul, Minn., for eight years.
“The reality is that we live in a world that is so closely divided that if you want your beliefs heard then you have to work for it, and you’ve got to be involved,” he said. “That’s why I’m here tonight. Because I want you to be involved and share your visions, because you can make a difference.”
Coleman said Martin Luther King Jr., who encouraged people to help others, was his inspiration.
“I took to heart his (belief) that anybody can be great because anybody can serve,” he said. “You don’t have to have a Ph.D to serve, you don’t even have to know how to make your nouns and verbs agree to serve. All you need is a heart to embrace and a soul generated by love.”
As a freshman senator, Coleman treaded the Republican Party line, calling for tax cuts, greater support for small-time farmers and more money to fight AIDS in developing countries.
Coleman is also involved with the battle currently being waged against file sharing and illegal music downloading.
During a Q-and-A session following his 45-minute address, an audience member asked Coleman about his involvement with the record industry and his stance on the issue.
“I understand and appreciate the record industry’s concern, but my problem is that they used people to make an example of the law,” he said. “Do they think they are going to change what 60 million people are doing by making an example of 150 people?”
He said Democrats have repeatedly thwarted efforts by Republicans to pass meaningful legislation on a wide variety of issues.
“My greatest frustration in the United States Senate today is when we try to do education reforms and tax reforms and the other side is fighting against change,” Coleman said. “Our party wants to make things better and not be stuck with the same system. If all you’ve been doing is what you’ve been doing all you’re going to get is more of the same.”
Coleman reflected on his tenure as mayor of St. Paul and identified a number of his achievements, including the establishment of more parks to keep children off the streets, the allocation of more money towards libraries and his efforts to help the unemployed find suitable jobs.
He said these achievements were made possible by easing tax burdens on residents and creating a pro-business environment.
Coleman said that through his dedication to St. Paul he was able to gain the support of skeptical community members.