Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, held a meet and greet with students on the roof of Mazur Hall Saturday afternoon ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8.
During the event, Shapiro discussed key issues for young voters, like abortion, voting rights and climate change. The event, which garnered a crowd of approximately 40 students, was hosted by the Josh Shapiro for Governor campaign. Students from Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania also attended the event.
The hour-long meet and greet began with a speech from Shapiro who credited young people for “leading the way” on issues like climate change and gun violence.
“The God’s honest truth is a lot of the adults have been getting it wrong,” Shapiro said. “And so I came here today to not just ask you to vote for me, but to mobilize for all of us. My name may be on the ballot, but it’s your rights and your future that’s on the line right now.”
Shapiro continued his speech by expressing that people of all backgrounds, sexual orientations and religions are welcomed in his campaign.
“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, who you pray to or choose not to pray to, I want to be your governor,” Shapiro said. “And I think we need to make sure all Pennsylvanians are respected.”
Shapiro also used his speech to separate himself from his opponent, Republican Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, pointing to his involvement with the Jan. 6 riots at the United States Capitol and a picture of him in dressed Confederate uniform at the U.S. Army War College.
Following his speech Shapiro shook hands, autographed lawn signs and took pictures with students who came to the event.
Gen Z, people born between 1997 and 2012, including young Philadelphia voters, will make a difference in the gubernatorial election, Shapiro told The Temple News after his speech.
“It’s necessary that they be engaged and involved,” Shapiro said. “They protect our reproductive rights, planned parenthood, the right to marry who we love. It’s on the line.”
Ninety percent of Temple Unversity students support abortion in all circumstances, according to a September poll from The Temple News.
Aneesh Sondur, a freshman finance major who attended the meet and greet, believes campaign events are important for both students and politicians.
“Honestly, I think it’s great that he’s coming out and reaching out to all the college students because kids are the next generation in the future of America,” Sondur said. “I’m excited to see what he has to say.”
Approximately 50 percent of people ages 18 to 29 voted in the 2020 election, according to Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Seventy-three percent of Temple Students who registered to vote participated as recently as the 2020 election, however turnout during midterms is typically lower than during elections featuring presidential candidates.
Hannah Palmer, a freshman social studies major, thinks that because more of Gen Z is now eligible to vote, that politicians should connect with them while campaigning.
“It’s so important that politicians come to college campuses because now that Gen Z is able to vote,” Palmer said. “There are so many pressing issues that we have and I think it’s like really important for politicians to come to hear everything that we want to voice and express that’s important to us.”
Shapiro also encouraged students to vote for Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, in November, reiterating the hot button issues that are on the line.
“We have an opportunity, an opportunity to take a stand, right here on Temple’s campus, on Drexel’s campus, on Penn’s campus, right here,” said Shapiro. “Fill it out, take a stand, and say we can do better than that, we are better than that.”