Sen. Padilla to speak to ’SC students

California Sen. Alex Padilla is scheduled to speak with students at USC today on various issues facing the state, such as immigration reform, education budget cuts and sustainability.

He is scheduled to appear in the  Rosen Family Theatre of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center at noon.

The chat is part of the Latino Empowerment Speakers Series, which will bring a dozen high-ranking politicians and city officials to campus for fireside chats with students.

Event organizer Juan Espinoza, director of political affairs for the Latina/o Student Assembly, said the event is for all students, not just Latinos.

“Senator Padilla is one of the most influential leaders in our state,” Espinoza said.  “I want to know his plans to counter Governor Jerry Brown’s recent proposal to cut Cal Grants in half for students at private universities.”

Brown announced his proposal earlier in the week, but Padilla said he was unaware of it.

“I didn’t hear about that,” Padilla said. “I guess I better take a look at that before [I go].”

Padilla is currently on a committee that oversees California’s education budget. At the age of 28, Padilla was one of the youngest presidents of the Los Angeles City Council, as well as the first Latino to lead the council since 1868.

Padilla said the number of Latino government representatives has soared in California compared to what it was when he first started working in government, but he said there is still much to be done.

“Just increasing the number of Latino government officials will not change the world,” Padilla said. “USC is an elite institution full of quality students who can make a difference. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.”

Padilla will soon become one of the many politicians that have come to USC to discuss pressing governmental issues with students. Last October, President Barack Obama along with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, now-Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke on campus to rally support for the democratic platform.

Dan Schnur, the executive director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, said the Latino Empowerment Speaker Series is a completely different event.

“It’s one thing for students to listen to some of the most prestigious politicians and high-ranking officials in the state, but when students get to interact with the speaker and talk with them — that’s what makes this an incredible opportunity,” Schnur said.

Efe Ozturk, a senior majoring in biological sciences, said it is important for students to interact with politicians and to voice their grievances.

“Events like these expose students to those politicians guiding the country,” he said. “This gives us a chance to speak out about obstacles that affect us all.”

Bill Ramos, a senior majoring in communication, said he is attending Padilla’s chat,  to seek inspiration and personal guidance.

“Padilla has had much success as a Latino politician and he inspires me to make a positive difference in my community,” Ramos said. “I want to be a role model for my siblings and show them how I graduated college. I want to make everyone proud.”

Aubrey Garcia, a senior majoring in communication and public relations, said events like these are vital for students to expand their bubble.

“As students, we need to realize that there is so much more going on around us than what we see on campus,” Garcia said. “It’s essential for USC to have events with politicians since they make decisions that affect us.”