The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

Senator Merkley holds town hall meeting at COCC


On April 28, roughly one hundred Central Oregonians gathered at Central Oregon Community Colleges’ Willie Hall, for Senator Merkley’s town hall.

This was part of Merkleys “Around Oregon”, where he and Senator Ron Wydn will travel to every county in Oregon to hold town hall meetings each year.

Merkley covered big topics, the Attack on Gaza, Deschutes County housing, transgender rights and the TikTok ban. While of course also covering more proximal concerns and questions.

The town hall meeting began with Merkley answering a question from one of COCC’s students, Matt Shaffery.

“What specific actions are you taking to make the world a better place without bias being involved?” Shaffery asked.

This big and broad question got the ball rolling as Merkley responded, “The phrase I use as kind of my philosophy is, “Never stop fighting to make the world a better place,” he said, “I want to see a world, I want to see a country, that works well for ordinary Americans. Government of, by and for the people.”

In a media conference Merkley was asked to comment on the TikTok ban and explain his opinion.

“It’s important to have american ownership, not to ban tiktok, but to make sure that you have responsible ownership,” said Merkley.

“The reason this is important is because we have seen in the algorithms that TikTok has used, that it’s subject to Chinese influence, propaganda and manipulation … we need to make sure our electronic town square in America is not controlled by a hostile foreign nation,” said Merkley.

Back at the town hall, concerns about other worldly events were raised.

A local thanked Merkley for opposing the $95 billion foreign aid bill, in which Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan would receive military and humanitarian aid.

Merkley explained his view that American money and weapons should not be used or be involved with a country that is restricting humanitarian aid access, such as Israel has been accused of doing.

Merkleys response was well accepted among the audience members, as many were clapping and cheering, he continued on with his answer, “But it’s how you respond that matters,” said Merkley, “It is my hope that we’re going to see a pathway to a future that breaks the cycle of hate and violence”.

“A loving approach is key,” said Merkley, expressing that transgender youth are among the most bullied and harassed group, and that they shouldn’t be subjected to more discrimination by not being allowed to participate in sports.

An attendee expressed his personal concern about transgender athletes, specifically young athletes, and asked for Merkley’s opinion.

“Let them play,” said Merkley.

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About the Contributor
Colette Lorge
Colette Lorge, Staff reporter
Colette Lorge is a staff writer for The Broadside. She started contributing to the online publication in the spring of 2023.

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