Beto continues college campaign


Trennt Rhea

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks at the Performance Hall at El Centro Campus on Oct 3.

Trennt Rhea, Staff Photographer

“When we were here in 2018, this place was not full. There were no students waiting outside the door who could not get in. We didn’t have this level of energy,” Beto O’Rourke, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said during his speech at Dallas College El Centro Campus.

With a raspy voice, O’Rourke gave a well-rehearsed speech to a packed crowd at the El Centro Performance Hall. O’Rourke had been going to college campuses across Texas to speak to young voters ahead of the Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. 

O’Rourke talked about the future of Texas if he is elected, and the differences between Texans heading into Election Day. “The differences between us do not matter,” O’Rourke said. “Everyone is welcome here. It’s not the party. It is all of us and how we’re choosing to meet this moment.”

O’Rourke visited 15 college campuses across Texas during his Beto for Texas College Tour, according to the candidate’s website. Earlier that day, he spoke at the University of North Texas before visiting El Centro. He ended his tour in his hometown at The University of Texas at El Paso on Oct. 11. 

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, Club at El Centro sponsored the event. Fatima Cruz, a LULAC Club member, said the club offers Hispanic students a place to come together. “We help students and members of the community with voting and going to events that may help them when it comes to issues in Texas that they might not know of,” Cruz said.

The club hosted the event to encourage young voters to vote, Cruz said. “We want to make sure that everyone votes in every election, not just the elections that are big and powerful and well-known,” she said.

Cruz said it was important for O’Rouke to speak at El Centro. “For him to actually come to a community college means he is willing to listen to us, listen to the small voices and listen to his community,” Cruz said.

LULAC Club also sent an invitation to Gov. Greg Abbott’s team, and they “respectfully declined,” Cruz said.

Each college tour event also allows potential voters to register to vote and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Volunteers with O’Rourke’s team and from across Dallas College came to El Centro to encourage attendees to register. Dorete Suffnes volunteers at multiple Dallas College campuses to register voters. “I thought this would be a great event where there’s a lot of young people, and I hope to get them to register and go out to vote,” Suffnes said. 

Ameera Chowdhury, a student, said she has supported O’Rourke since he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Chowdhury said Beto cares for his supporters and wants them to understand the importance of voting regardless of their stance. “He wants everyone to come to their own conclusion, and I haven’t seen Greg Abbott do anything like that,” she said.

O’Rourke said one of the biggest issues in Texas and the U.S. is gun control. “The parents could only identify the children by the shoes that they were wearing or DNA swabs that they took,” O’Rourke said, referring to the shooting in Uvalde.

“What if we said it was possible to defend the Second Amendment, to call upon the long tradition of responsible gun ownership, and just do some common sense bipartisan things that will better protect the lives of our children, our families and the people in our communities?” O’Rourke said.

Raising the age requirement for owning a firearm to 21 is among O’Rourke’s propositions. “That gives us three more years into intervening in the lives of those who are troubled like the 18-year-old in Uvalde,” O’Rourke said.

He also expressed the need to change laws regarding women’s reproductive rights. According to the American Civil Liberties Union  of Texas, “Texas’ abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in the country.”

O’Rourke said: “Remember, this is not about life. If this was about life, you wouldn’t have lost the lives of more than a hundred children in child protective services custody and care over the last year and a half.”

If elected, O’Rourke said every woman would make the decisions about her own body, future and healthcare – a sentiment that prompted seemingly the entire Performance Hall to erupt into a round of applause.

“In 2018, 4.9 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 17% of the population of Texas,” according to a study by the American Immigrant Council.

O’Rourke said wants to provide opportunities to immigrants across the state. “With an extraordinary opportunity that we have, there are people who want to come here to work, join family members and seek asylum,” O’Rourke said. “There should be a safe, legal, orderly path for them to be able to do that.”