About 300 college students from across the country met in Washington D.C. yesterday for the first All Student Town Meeting to discuss President Clinton's National Service plan.
The students engaged in open discussion with Director of the White House Office of National Service Eli Segal, Secretary of Education Richard Riley and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Harris Wofford (D-Penn.).
Discussions at the conference, sponsored by the 3.5 million-member U.S. Student Association, focused on the future of President Clinton's plan to make college available to all young people, said Kate Frucher, director of student outreach at the Office of National Service.
"It's important to the President that students' voices be heard at every stage of this process," said Frucher last night. Frucher is an undergraduate from the College who is taking time off.
"The National Service Program is a tremendous investment in young people's talents and abilities," she said.
The panelists discussed issues such as loans and the plan for national service in exchange for a college education, said Ethan Zindler, a spokesperson for the White House office of National Service.
While speakers focused primarily on their own areas of expertise, all urged students to support the President's package for education, Zindler said.
Harkin and Wofford said although the package passed through the House of Representatives unscathed, it would face much more difficulty in the Senate, Zindler said. The senators urged students to lobby for the legislation and to write to their senators.
A group of students also emphasized the importance of financial aid, referring to their difficulties in paying for college, Zindler said.
A town-meeting style panel followed, during which members of the audience commented on the national service plan.
Tchiyuka Cornelius, Vice-President of the U.S. Student Association, said last night that the meeting went "very well," as it was an example of the "continual empowering" of American students