By Kassel Franco Garibay
Shortly before the 2017-2018 school year, the Acorn conducted a poll asking the Drew community what they were most excited about when they get back to campus. The results showed that an overwhelming 41 percent of Drewids chose the Drew Forum Lecture Series, beating the next option by 14 percentage points. The highly anticipated series, which is supported by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and the Thomas H. Kean Visiting Lectureship, concluded last Wednesday, March 28, with a sold-out lecture by Former Vice President Joe Biden.
Students began lining up outside of the Simon Forum shortly before 6 p.m., two hours before the lecture began. The former Vice President was received by a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage where he was introduced by Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger.
As a member of the Democratic Party, Biden served for 36 years as a Senator for Delaware, becoming the longest-serving senator for that state. He led the legislative efforts for the creation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act, two laws he talked about extensively during his lecture. After two terms serving as Vice President for Barack Obama, Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction. “All politics are personal,” President Baenninger said, before welcoming the former Vice President on stage.
“In a day and age of bickering, partisanship and serious issues relegated to 140 characters. VP Biden’s personal touch is so refreshing, comforting and inspiring,” said Baenninger.
Biden opened his lecture by thanking the people in attendance, giving a special shout out to the undergraduate students whom he “sure hoped were getting extra credit.” Biden also noted that one of the highlights of his evening had been catching up with former Republican Governor of New Jersey and Drew President Thomas Kean. This comment set the theme of the lecture, in which Biden talked about the importance of bipartisanship.
“As a Delawarean, it was very exciting to see him, he’s someone who I feel like I have that ‘personal connection’ to, and he’s held one of the most important positions in the U.S.,” said Kelly Hartwick (‘20). “He’s also a great role model for college students, he really does care about students’ education, and connecting with students.”
Following his lecture, Biden sat for a Q&A session with President Baenninger; they covered topics such as how to include men into the fight against sexual harassment and whether Biden was thinking about running for president in 2020. She opened the question session by asking him if he had any advice for the young people in the audience to which Biden replied “There is no place to hide. You gotta get engaged and actually do things like run for office.”
“I loved listening to Joe Biden speak because although he talked a lot about government, he also offered good advice about leadership and morality that every college student should keep in mind,” noted Natalie Zucca (’21), one of the over 3,000 people in attendance of the lecture.
“I anticipated a good talk. I was happy he was able to get his view on our current president out in a way that wasn’t demeaning or like Trump’s way of name calling,” commented William Andrews (’18). “I felt inspired to do something more than I have done. It reinforced my desire to go into healthcare.” Andrews also noted his desire for Biden to run for President in 2020.
Prior to the lecture, a reception was hosted in Mead Hall where the attendees had the opportunity to meet the 47th Vice President. The reception attendance included former Gov. Kean, various alumni, the board of trustees, the members of the Laurie Foundation and some Drew students. “I am so fortunate to be a part of the Drew community and have opportunities to meet people such as the Mayor of Madison, Robert Conley or (no big deal) former Vice President, Joe Biden,” said Jaye Santoro (‘19), the president of Student Philanthropy Ambassadors. “As a student, I am beyond grateful to have opportunities like this, to make connections from the amazing alumni and to work for such appreciative departments such as the Advancement House.”
Also in attendance was the President of the Student Body, Salma Mahmoud (‘19), who shared her thoughts about the lecture, “Everything he said really resonated with me and probably with all of Drew. Especially the part about us getting up and actually doing something and fighting for what we believe in.”
Photo Courtesy of Drew University Facebook