Students protest Betsy DeVos’ confirmation during campus walk-out

Kent State students participate in a walk out in response to the appointment of Betsy DeVos and Rob Portman’s confirmation of her for Secretary of Education February 7, 2017. Kent State University was founded as a college for rural teachers over 100 years ago.

Caelin Mills

Kent State students gathered at Risman Plaza Wednesday afternoon with signs in hand to protest Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education.

Students walk out in reaction to Betsy DeVos from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

Despite the cold and snow, students were ready to be heard, particularly Madison Newingham, a sophomore political science major, who also spoke at the event.

“She doesn’t quite have a plan, which is the first problem, just for starters,” Newingham said. “She’s another unqualified, un-relatable billionaire that’s going to be in the executive. Just looking at her first Senate hearing, she is supposed to be the leader of the Department of Education and cannot differentiate the difference between growth and proficiency, which is a very basic and critical point in her job.”

Money was a topic of conversation as well, in relation to the confirmation. Newingham noted DeVos’ financial ties to the government officials who elected her as Secretary of Education.

“I completely detest Rob Portman’s vote. It’s not an accurate reflection of our democracy at all,” Newingham said. “He sold his vote to Betsy DeVos on behalf of 350,000 constituents. She’s donated a ton of money to the Republican party.”

MJ Eckhouse, junior political science student, cited money as a key problem as well, noting that DeVos “owes the state of Ohio $5 million in fines for misconduct in an elections of one of her political action committees.”

Eckhouse also protested DeVos’ platform of school choice, explaining that the Secretary of Education’s views aren’t favorable to those who depend on public schools.

“She believes in school choice, meaning defunding public schools and putting students who don’t have a choice in where they go to school in a bad position where they can’t pay teachers. They can’t pay for materials like textbooks,” Eckhouse said.

Rue Monroe, a sophomore theatre studies major, doesn’t think DeVos represents the people of the United States.

“She doesn’t know the educational system. I’m sure she’s never even stepped into an elementary school,” Monroe said. “How can someone who is supposed to be advocating for our generation not know anything about our generation or what they need?”

Students agree that demonstrating and voicing their opinions is still important, even after the confirmation.

“It can inspire people to get involved, to learn more, I think just by making any kind of statement in public allows people to see that real people care about this stuff and that maybe they should too,” Eckhouse said.

Newingham agrees that these events will help students get involved, politically.

“Ultimately, the more people who are involved, the more people that will vote,” Newingham said. “That’s how our voices are actually heard in our government.”

Monroe believes students’ experiences in the public school system, along with her own, are important voices in this discussion.

“I think that students like myself, especially on a college campus, students that have grown up with the educational system, we have been guinea pigs for different laws and levies that happened in the years, so we know what it’s like to be in these situations,” Monroe said.

Caelin Mills is the student politics reporter, contact her at [email protected]