Updated: Oct. 30, 2019 at 9:03 a.m.
Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson discussed key planks of her climate change and education policies in the Marvin Center Sunday.
Williamson spoke on a range of political issues at the event, hosted by GW College Democrats, like reparations for slavery and minimizing the influence of multinational corporations and the military in politics. About 150 people attended the event, at which Williamson discussed the United States’ historical hypocrisy about individual rights and mental health rights.
Before the event, Williamson tweeted at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg claiming that “college Dems” at GW informed her that Buttigieg supporters planned to attend the event and walk out once she started speaking. Executive board members of the organization GW Students for Pete Buttigieg released a statement debunking the rumor, stating that the group did not encourage its members to protest at the event.
“We forcefully reject any efforts to mischaracterize or falsely represent the efforts of our organization,” executive board members said in the statement. “Anyone who protests at or otherwise disrupts this event does not speak for GW Students for Pete Buttigieg – we condemn in the strongest terms anyone who attempts to speak for us without our knowledge or approval.”
At the event, Williamson said the Declaration of Independence’s signers advocated for freedom and liberty despite being slaveholders, which she said represents the “bipolar nature” of the United States toward individual liberties.
“We are both a nation founded on the most enlightened and aspirational principles that have ever formed the core of a nation and we have always been – in every generation, and in some ways are today – the most violent perpetrators of transgression against those principles.”
Williamson said that if elected president, she will ensure that the government pays reparations for the historic injustice of slavery.
“I don’t believe that the average American is a racist,” she said. “But I do believe that the average American is woefully undereducated about the history of race in the United States.”
Williamson also talked about the need to reform higher education to introduce trauma-informed health care for students with post-traumatic stress disorder, to eliminate student loan debt and to ensure access to a free college education. She said that if elected, she would institute a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Children and Youth to tackle issues affecting American youth like food insecurity and lacking mental health care access in schools.
“In the richest country in the world, it is a passive form of oppression to withhold from any child in any neighborhood a high-quality education for no other reason than that child did not win the birth lottery when it comes to financial advantage,” she said.
Williamson added that she would also prioritize adding a cabinet-level U.S Department of Peace if she is elected president to ensure that U.S. officials are adequately prioritizing global peacekeeping efforts.
“We need to get the peace-building agencies equal weight on the national security agenda as we do the military,” she said.
Williamson said tackling the issue of climate change will require “World War II-level” mass mobilization, adding that the Green New Deal – proposed legislation aimed at combating climate change and economic inequality – might be insufficient to address the vast scope of the climate “crisis.”
“We have 12 years to make a serious transition from a dirty economy to clean economy,” she said. “If we do not do this, we could face within 20 years a level of massive social collapse, the likes of which we have not seen in the modern era.”
About a week before the event, College Democrats released a statement Monday to “reaffirm” that they “have not” and “will not” endorse a candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary. Former College Democrats President Lauren Bordeaux echoed the group’s decision not to endorse a primary candidate, adding that the student organization hopes to bring more presidential candidates to speak on campus in the coming months.
Half of the College Democrats executive board announced their resignations in an email to the group’s members on Monday, citing personal development and mental health reasons. At a town hall meeting Tuesday, the board’s remaining members said the resigned leaders tampered with the group’s election for freshman representative in September.
This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that College Democrats released a statement after Marianne Williamson’s event. The organization released the statement about a week before. We regret this error.