BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY
The Political Science Association (PSA), in collaboration with the Black Student Union, College Republicans, College Democrats, Pi Sigma Alpha, Women in Learning and Leadership, and the Student Organization Advisory Council (SOAC), have put together a speaker series about Detroit. The first one, this past Wednesday, featured State Representative Harvey Santana.
Santana, who spoke for just under an hour, mentioned his childhood. He was born and raised in the city, and as he grew older, the only thing he wanted to do was bolt to Miami as fast as he could. He went to Henry Ford Community College, worked in the Navy, and after that the Ritz-Carlton hotel.
He was told he should run for City Council of Detroit, to represent the Hispanics of Detroit. A state representative seat opened up and he knew it was what he wanted to do.
In talking about Detroit, he mentioned, “Detroit needs an intervention, a political intervention.” The four things that people want include a safe neighborhood, a quality education, a decent return on their investment (home), and municipal services, Santana said.
As a state representative, he is given $72,000 to work with. That gives him one full time employee and a part time employee. The Detroit City Council, on the other hand, has $900,000 to work with. Santana stated that the City Council will change dramatically if a financial manager is appointed to help the city. “Fundamentally, I’m against it,” Santana said of a possible manager. He doesn’t believe in taking away the right to vote of the citizens.
“…Santana did not simply regurgitate facts but gave his honest opinion of the city, the politicians running the city, and where he would like to see the city in 10-15 years,” said student Brendan Gallagher.
“I thought it was an awesome event…it was an opportunity to gain real, authentic insight into some of the issues that are going on within the city limits of Detroit,” Gallagher continued.
Sophomore Sarah Idriss also attended the event. “I thought it was very informative,” said Idriss. “I liked that his focus was making the city better for everyone.”
Santana began talking about the future of Detroit near the end of the event and said that Detroit’s future lies in transportation. Not just light rail, or rapid-transit buses. He believes it lies in the freeways, railroad, another bridge, and an aerotropolis. “Moving products faster, safer, and cheaper,” Santana stated is why people will stay here.
Jessica Reed, Co-President of PSA, collaborated with Alexander Steward, President of the College Republicans, on doing a speaker series after a successful event back in the fall semester.
“Sean Murphy had the idea to center it around Detroit and we went from there,” said Reed. In the series, Reed hopes that students can be, “inspired to make an individual effort towards the betterment of Detroit.”
“Representative Santana definitely met expectations. He is a very energetic and relateable speaker who tells stories to make his point. He knows a lot about being an average citizen in the city and about the city government. I really valued his viewpoint,” said Reed.
Turnout for the event was not what they had hoped for but believe that there will be more students at the next event.
The next Destination Detroit Speaker Series will include the Director of the Michigan Women’s Commission: Susy Avery. It will be held in the College of Arts, Science and Letters (CASL) in room 1030. It starts at 5:00pm, this Thursday, February 9. It is free to all students.
Come be a part of something big and learn something new about the city, how to help and how to be a part of the revival. If you have any questions, you can contact Co-President Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.