State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) visited Pitzer College Wednesday for the second time this semester to hold an open dialogue event focused on activism and political engagement among millennials.
Attendance at the talk was low – only 11 people were there, including four 5C students, a few high schoolers from the area, and other local residents.
“Your generation is volunteering more than any generation in history, except politically,” Portantino said at the beginning of the event. “For me, I want to have these open dialogues to hear what you have to say … You have your policy maker here, what do you want me to know?”
Throughout the talk, Portantino tried to get attendees involved in answering each other’s questions, rather than just answering them all himself, like in a traditional question and answer session.
“You’re all here to participate, so it’s translating the action to beyond these walls that is important,” he said.
Pitzer Studet Senate Secretary Kamyab Mashian PZ '19, who presided over the event for Senate, appreciated the approach that Portantino took to the event.
“While many of the politicians who have come to Pitzer before just talk at the students about their projects and views, Senator Portantino solicited our input on what we wanted to see at the state level. Students are not often given an opportunity to make their views and experiences heard so directly,” he said.
Other topics at the talk included the new gas tax in California, which was raised by 12 cents per gallon Wednesday; how access to mental health services can be expanded and destigmatized, particularly in high schools; how standardized testing can impact education; academic pressures in college; differences in resources between schools in the University of California system; and the country’s deeply divided political environment.
Mashian said that while the event was small, it made it more effective since it allowed “for much more dialogue between the participants.”
“It was also interesting to hear the views of the high school students who were in attendance, since so much of the discussion revolved around the pressures created by the state education system,” he said.