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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt College Republicans host Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn for speaker event

The Vanderbilt College Republicans (VCR) hosted Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn for a discussion and Q&A.
Marsha Blackburn speaks to the Vanderbilt College Republicans over Zoom in Alumni Hall
Alison Winters
Marsha Blackburn speaks to the Vanderbilt College Republicans over Zoom in Alumni Hall, as photographed on March 15, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Alison Winters)

Around 40 Vanderbilt students gathered in Alumni Hall on March 15 to listen to Tennessee Senator (R) Marsha Blackburn answer questions over Zoom. This event was hosted by the Vanderbilt College Republicans (VCR) and was the first time a sitting U.S. Senator has spoken with the group, although Blackburn has visited campus before to speak with Women in Government (WIG).

Blackburn was elected as the first female senator of Tennessee in 2018. She served in the House of Representatives from 2003-19 and was part of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential transition team. During the event, Blackburn discussed the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Keystone Pipeline and the open Supreme Court justice position. 

Ukraine-Russia War

Blackburn opened with what she believes to be the motivations behind President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“Putin is using this as an opportunity to try to put the old Soviet Union back together, to expand his territory and to increase the population of Russia,” Blackburn said. “He thought the environment was there for him to expand.”

She then spoke about President Joe Biden’s sanctioning of Russia as an attempt to end the violence.

“I am grateful that the president has put sanctions in place, that he has worked to pull them out of the SWIFT banking system and that he hasn’t done it completely,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said the Senate is working to support the removal of Russia from SWIFT and create legislation to remove Russia from the United Nations Security Council. Blackburn said that the U.S. should provide Ukraine with “lethal” and “humanitarian aid” to best support the country.

“[Allowing] Ukraine to protect themselves is going to be vital,” Blackburn said. “They are going to need airpower, expedited funding and other support. We must be certain we are pushing this aid to them as quickly as we can.”

Blackburn spoke about her current work on the Open App Market Act, which concerns the restrictions placed on app developers by app stores. With Russia’s blocking of many apps, like Facebook and Instagram, and major companies’ decisions to halt their services in the country, Blackburn believes internet policy is a significant issue.

“We have human rights organizations all around the globe that are looking forward to having the open app market,” Blackburn said. “People live in countries with repressive regimes and want to be able to download apps that would allow them access to the internet.”

A VCR member posed a question about ways the U.S. could deter China from using Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to forcibly take over Taiwan.

“Any message that we send to Moscow, the leverage we use against Moscow, is also a message to Beijing,” Blackburn said. “This is about tipping the scales of the global balance of power toward freedom. This is an opportunity for [the U.S.]. We have to make sure [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy wins and that Putin loses.”

Junior and VCR President Shane Mumma organized the speaker event and expressed his agreement with Blackburn’s statements.

“​​I really liked everything she said about Ukraine. It was really interesting hearing from someone who knows so much about the subject,” Mumma said. “A senator coming to speak with us, I think that’s really unique. Otherwise, how else do you get that really high-level information?”

Other political topics

Blackburn additionally gave her opinion on the Biden administration’s shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline, which is a project that began in 2008 to create a joint oil system in the U.S. and Canada. Biden’s halting of the pipeline has been debated by members of Congress, with some in support to protect the environment and others frustrated with the lost economic opportunities.

“It would eliminate the need for importing 670,000 barrels a day, and it would return us to being energy independent and a net exporter of energy,” Blackburn said. “My hope is that we are going to see a reversal of some of these energy policies by President Biden and we will have the Keystone restarted.”

Blackburn also discussed the upcoming hearings for the open Supreme Court justice position. Although Blackburn has publicly denounced Biden’s choice to move forward with the hearings at this time due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, she claimed the forthcoming proceedings with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be civil.

“This is going to be a respectful hearing. It is going to focus on her record,” Blackburn said. “It is going to be respectful of the process and respectful of the constitution.” 

In her closing remarks, Blackburn discussed the Republican Party, her own journey into politics and advice to prospective politicians. She encouraged Vanderbilt students to get involved with political campaigns and gain experience through internships.

“It was great to hear Senator Blackburn speak about her experience being Tennessee’s first female Congressperson,” first-year and event attendee Veronica Tadross said. “I look forward to attending events with more political speakers in the future.”

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About the Contributor
Alison Winters
Alison Winters, Deputy News Editor
Alison Winters (‘25) is from Franklin, Tenn., and is majoring in political science and law, history and society with a minor in psychology in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her at the movie theater, reading a good book or attending a concert in Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
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2 years ago

This woman is a toxic stain on the state

2 years ago

This was an amazing event!