On Feb. 18, Lewis & Clark Alumni and Parent Programs kicked off their Spring Featured Alumni speaker series by hosting a virtual conversation with Rep. Earl Blumenauer B.A. ’70, J.D. ’76.
Blumenauer represents Oregon’s third congressional district, which encompasses most of Portland, including LC. He just won his 13th term last November. Blumenauer graduated from LC in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and received his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in 1976. He has since maintained a close relationship with the alumni network and has participated in multiple events through Alumni and Parent Programs.
Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Ginger Moshofsky ’83 organized the event, which 117 alumni attended.
“When the pandemic came about last year, everything was put on hold,” Moshovsky said. “We started thinking about what we could still do that would create community and would connect people, that would be enriching … so we started doing virtual events.”
Blumenauer began the event by summarizing the major political events that have happened since November, from the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to President Biden’s inauguration 14 days later. He emphasized how important being involved in politics is right now, and the dangers of blind partisanship.
“We are facing probably the most consequential session of Congress in our history,” Blumenauer said.
After his 15-minute introduction, Blumenauer opened the floor for questions, moderated by political science major Nick Gothard ’21.
“Some people might tell you that conversational events aren’t beneficial from public officials,” Gothard said. “But I would say that it really gives the elected a chance to open up and talk about the issues and what they think honestly, and then also go beyond and start to put that investment in their communities.”
Attendees asked questions covering topics ranging from election security and the post office to the Electoral College and bipartisanship.
“We have legislation that is named after our dear departed colleague, John Lewis, who dedicated his life to make it possible for people to participate politically,” Blumenauer said. “And we’re going to try and move this legislation forward. Again, this is something that shouldn’t be partisan, but is intensely partisan.”
Though the congressman was speaking as a representative from the Democratic Party and expressed his political views candidly, the conversation was branded as a non-political event.
“As an institution, we don’t take a political stand, because we want to respect everybody that’s out there,” Moshofsky said. “But (Blumenauer) is a political figure, and he did express his views on things, and we’re okay with that.”
The Alumni and Parent Programs office plans to continue this speaker series. Their goal is to feature as many interesting and notable alumni as possible while strengthening the community of alumni that has been forced to eschew their normal social interactions over the past year. Coming up later this spring are chef and owner of Classic Foods Jake Greenberg and Adam Bradley, who is involved in the literary estate of Ralph Ellison.