When Julián Castro, the United States secretary of housing and urban development, graduated from Stanford University in 1996, he had about $18,000 in debt. Now, he’s voting for Hillary Clinton in part because of her plans to make college more affordable and reduce student debt.
Castro explained why he believes Clinton should be president when he spoke to Lehigh students and members of the community at Deja Brew in South Bethlehem this afternoon. He said she is the best candidate to ensure Americans are safe in a “dangerous world,” and he emphasized the importance of her plans to create educational opportunities for students.
“It’s all about, for this generation, who is going to create great opportunity in this country,” Castro said.
Clinton’s plan would make community college free, make in-state public universities and colleges tuition free for students from families with an income less than $125,000 a year, and allow students to refinance their debt.
Jigar Patel, ’17, attended the event and said he supports Clinton mainly because he is concerned about the soaring cost of college, which continues to rise faster than inflation. Patel, who is the president of College Democrats, said he was excited to hear why Castro is voting for Clinton. Aside from Castro’s speech, Patel said he appreciated Castro’s friendliness and his ability to connect with the audience.
“I think he was very down to earth, the way he was talking,” Patel said. “It was orientated toward college students, so he gave a speech on how he feels education can change. You could connect with him. He came from a background where a lot of us come from. He had to struggle. He had debt. You have a connection because he knows what all of us goes through, and he thinks it needs to be changed.”
Pennsylvania Democrats and Students for Hillary invited Castro to speak. Abdallah Fayyad, an organizer for the Democratic party in Pennsylvania, introduced Castro by noting the importance of voting, especially for those who are between the ages of 18 and 24. Sophie Bysiewicz, ’18, attended the event because she is voting for Clinton, but also because she believes all Americans should be informed voters.
“A lot of us can sometimes be passive about the political system and complain but not actually do anything,” she said. “One little thing we can do is vote.”
Castro echoed this sentiment and challenged students to encourage others to vote. He said when students vote, they send a message to the president and Congress to improve the education system in the country. Castro said students need to spend the 17 days until the election encouraging as many people to vote for Clinton as possible.
“College voters are going to be fantastically important to the nation,” Castro said. “Here in Pennsylvania, college voters are even more important because this is a swing state where the margin is going to be close, and more young people could mean the margin of victory for Hillary Clinton in this election.”