Address by Vice President Harris to political science students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

VICE PRESIDENT: Okay, what questions do you have? What’s going on? What do you think about life?

STUDENT: Very nervous now. (Laughter.)

VICE PRESIDENT: What is your name?

STUDENT: Noah. Nice to meet you.

VICE PRESIDENT: Hi Noah. (Unintelligible.) Well, listen, I’ve been… you know, I’ve been traveling around the country, and a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately, now that all the restrictions related to COVID have been lifted, has been meeting with students. You guys are where it’s at. I’m telling you guys, you’re where it’s at.

STUDENT: (Unintelligible.)

VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re very… you’re very kind, but here’s what I want you to know: I need your leadership, and we need you to lead. Fine?

When you look at what’s going on in our country right now, there’s a very fundamental question of whether we’re going to stand up for our democracy, the principles we’re founded on, which are about freedom and liberty.

I don’t need to tell you guys—we’ve come out of almost two years of a pandemic where we literally told people to isolate themselves, and what that means in terms of people feeling lonely.

And, you know, when people feel lonely, it can be very draining. And the strength of our people has always been: one out of many; that we see ourselves as having much more in common than what separates us.

Part of your leadership that I ask you to do is to remind people of communities, of community, and that we are all in this together. Is it so important.

And one of the other things that I’m going to ask you to really take the lead on is to remind everyone you know, including those who are active in terms of being out of school, about the importance of the climate crisis.

You guys are going to pay the price for what we do, or what we don’t do for that matter.

I was just meeting with a group of people, talking about a conversation I had last night with the FEMA administrator—the head of FEMA—about what’s going on in Puerto Rico, how the island has been affected by extreme weather.

And we’re seeing extreme weather in my home state of California — wildfires. My brother-in-law is a fireman.

Let me tell you—yes? — what happens to people, entire communities were evacuated due to forest fires. Earlier we talked about “wildfire season”. Now a whole year.

You look at hurricanes and floods.

So what do we need to do, right? — it should be about: Let’s save this planet, these precious resources that this planet has and that it gives us to sustain life.

And I’m going to count on you guys to remind people that — let’s not make the wrong choice, shall we? Investing in a clean energy economy is creating jobs. It’s about us, too — so that all of you, your children and grandchildren can breathe clean air and drink clean water.

We need to work with our partners around the world because I chair the Space Council. Let me tell you something: every now and then I talk to astronauts who are in space when I talk to them. And the last group, because I was in Houston at the Johnson Space Center, and then I actually went to the Artemis launch in Florida. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we planned; we delayed it.

But I ask astronauts when I talk to them—some of them (inaudible) in space—and I say, “Tell me what changed your perspective on this after being in space.” And almost to one, they tell me: “You are in space, you look at the Earth, and you understand how delicate and fragile it is.” right?

So, on this issue of the climate crisis, in addition to any other issue that you guys might consider and think about in the context of the work of your government, the work of each of us—yes? — as members of a democracy, what do you think we need to do in a way that we need to take on some of these issues and get rid of unnecessary conflict and, you know, bias, and it’s really about saying, “Hey, let’s “unite in this because we are all in this together.” It doesn’t matter who you voted for last time or who you voted for next time. If we don’t come together on this issue, we will all pay the price.

So anyway, I just wanted to come in and tell you guys that I’m really proud of you for just starting your freshman year, except for one person — (laughter) — and just keep going. It’s an exciting time. You guys meet and sit next to each other that will end up being lifelong friends, I tell you.

In my freshman year, I met the people that I ended up being—you know, we ended up being—I became their children’s godfather. right? People you will know for the rest of your life.

So enjoy this experience. And your big brains are like a sponge now. So just soak it all in. Ask all questions. And just lead. Just drive because we need you guys. Fine? good thank you all (Applause.)


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