U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small paid a visit to NMSU last night. The town hall meeting took place Wednesday evening in the Corbett Center auditorium.
The congresswoman, who represents New Mexico’s 2nd district, was welcomed to NMSU by students and faculty as they gathered for the event organized by ASNMSU. The meeting was moderated by Matthew Madrid, who is the director of government affairs for ASNMSU. Madrid indicated that he invited Torres Small to NMSU because he believes it’s important for students to engage in healthy political discussion.
The turnout for the event wasn’t as large as ASNMSU organizers might have anticipated, but they appeared more than happy to accommodate the few students who did show up to the event.
Torres Small began by requesting to keep the meeting informal and casual since the number of people in the audience wasn’t very big. Those who were in the audience sat at the very front of the auditorium while Torres Small took a seat on the steps leading up to the stage. This allowed her to meet with the students at eye level.
Rep. Torres Small led off by telling the audience about her political rise as the youngest U.S. congresswoman ever to represent New Mexico. “I can guarantee you I don’t agree with everyone — Republican or within my own party,” Torres Small said. “My focus is [going to] be on my home and representing it.”
After the introduction, the congresswoman jumped into discussing the current issue of President Trump’s impeachment and the Ukraine call. She asked audience members if they were familiar with the situation and seemed to want to get a few opinions before sharing her own insight. Torres Small made references to the transcript of the conversation between the president and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Torres Small asked the audience, by a show of hands, other questions regarding whether they believe the president should be impeached and whether there should even be an investigation into the matter. “This is not my area of law, but this is something we need to look into,” Torres Small said.
After the impeachment discussion, the audience had a chance to ask the congresswoman a few questions about other issues. Some people asked questions on the proposed plan to provide New Mexicans with free college tuition. “I don’t think necessarily that college should be free for everyone. I think we have dropped the ball on vocational programs,” Torres Small said. “We should be making college more affordable for everyone. It should be something you can pay back and pay back quickly. Nothing is free. If we’re spending a lot of money to give everyone a free college education, we have to think of people that have already graduated who are already in debt.”
The audience also asked questions about the Rural MOMS Act that was introduced last month, infrastructure, environmental concerns, homeless youth and gun safety issues. Throughout the event, Torres Small made it clear that regardless of the topic being discussed, her job is to make sure that everyone from both sides of the political aisle is involved.
Freshman Andrew Pick-Roth isn’t from New Mexico, but indicated after the event he was happy to learn about his new home state’s representative. “I was very impressed with everything she said.”
ASNMSU President Evan Conner, who also attended the meeting, believed the event was a success. “I think a lot of the questions here were very thoughtful and very relevant to what we see going on not only within our state, but on a national level as well, ” Connor said. Connor also indicated that getting students involved can be difficult, especially when it comes to politics, but was happy with the turnout overall.
Following the meeting, the few students who attended all got a chance to personally thank Rep. Torres Small and let her know just how much her visit meant to them.