Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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“Uncomfortable Conversations” with Governor Walz

Jacob Gifford
Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, talks with students in the Solarium.

Friday, November 3rd was an optimistic day for Winona State University (WSU). Various student organizations and community members gathered for an invite-only event to witness Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, speak and address state and nation issues.

Walz, originally a professor and football coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato, was elected to Congress in 2005. Walz won his first election to the United States House of Representatives in 2006 and was re-elected for another five terms serving Minnesota’s First Congressional District. He has served as the 41st governor of Minnesota since 2019. In his speech to the audience at WSU, he mentioned various challenges and successes during his time thus far.

“We passed the largest child-tax credit of any state in the nation, and we are already the fourth lowest in child poverty, and after this, is enacted in the next year, we will move to the lowest number of children living in poverty in any state,” Walz said. “The good news is, when you reduce childhood poverty, when you increase homeownership, everyone benefits because the economy floats.”

Minnesota House of Representatives member, Gene Pelowski, introduced Walz and talked about a recent project Walz enacted.

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“All of the new money and the money from the governors before added up would not be half of the $650,000,000 Governor Walz signed into law this June,” Pelowski said. “Where did it go? We froze your tuition and created the North Star Promise.”

Beginning in fall 2024, the North Star Promise Scholarship program will create a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education for eligible Minnesota residents at eligible institutions as a “last-dollar” program by covering the balance of tuition and fees remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends and tuition waivers have been applied.

One of the most recent laws passed was enacting free lunches for all children in schools, and Walz expressed how passionate he was about this.

“It seems like a little thing, but every single child that walks through the door will eat breakfast and lunch and no longer will someone be shamed because they don’t have the money to pay for it,” Walz said.

Walz really pushed to address the effect that college campuses and students on campus have on political decisions.

“It starts on college campuses, it starts among young people, it starts with a vision on how things are going to get done,” Walz said. “I am grateful to be here with you, I am incredibly hopeful about where our future is but I am also very pragmatic about things. These are going to be challenges, but here in Minnesota, we want it to be the best place in the country to raise a family and for children to grow up in.”

In an analogous way, Walz expressed that WSU has been historically impactful and he spoke highly of the students here.

“The students at Winona State and the sense of social activism and political engagement were so broad that it ended up being the students at this university that helped me as a schoolteacher with no money and no political experience win a congressional seat,” Walz said. “That’s because we were focused on the issues that mattered to them.”

Another issue that Walz addressed was the traumatic events and issues that students in this generation have grown up with.

“I always told people that there were two things I never worried about when going to high school: I never worried it was going to be hard to pay for college – we were not wealthy, but the system was fair and it was affordable – and I never worried about getting shot in school,” Walz said. “We do not have to live this way. Other countries do not live this way. We can either decide that there is something horribly wrong with us as a society or that our gun laws are not right.”

Nicholas Fryer, President of WSU’s College Democrats Club, organized the event and touched on its importance of Walz’s appearance for campus.

“It was a way to create meaningful change and to have a conversation with student leaders and possibly to help the governor create and navigate new goals that he can have for the 2024 legislative session,” Fryer said.

Fryer also mentioned that the main purpose of this conversation was to show students how impactful their decision can be.

“I think it’s important to encourage people to vote,” Fryer said. “That is the goal that we wanted for this conversation and this club: we wanted to get people engaged and make sure that student leaders understand to have that message of ‘You need to vote.’’

Walz made sure to tell the audience that politics and conversations like these are often looked at as “tricky” or “uncomfortable,” but that is what makes them the most beneficial for society.

“When you’re in college, uncomfortable conversations happen and you should be challenged around those things,” Walz said. “We should be able to have those conversations in a respectful way that brings everybody in without putting a box around it. You are at the heart of this.”

Walz was optimistic about the future of the state and concluded with something he works towards every day.

“The analogy I use is: You can make a decision to buy school buses or prison buses, and we choose school buses.”

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About the Contributors
Reanne Weil
Reanne Weil, News Editor

Reanne Weil is a News Reporter for The Winonan and started in Spring 2023. Weil is a fourth-year at Winona State University majoring in Journalism and double-minoring in Spanish and Creative Digital Media.

In addition to working for The Winonan, Weil is a member and captain of the Division II Women’s Soccer Team at WSU. She is also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Outside of school, Weil works remotely for her local newspaper. She loves spending her free time with her friends and family. She enjoys watching the television show Friends and Disney movies with her favorite snack, popcorn and M&M’s.

Jacob Gifford
Jacob Gifford, Features Writer

Jacob Gifford (They/He) is a photographer and a features writer for the Winonan and started in fall 2023. Jacob is in his third year at Winona State and is studying Psychology with a minor in Philosophy and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies.

Besides working for The Winonan, Jacob is also the Vice president of Philosophy Club at Winona State.

In his free time, Jacob enjoys hanging out with friends, longboarding, playing videogames, and writing and playing music. Jacob also enjoys going to concerts of local bands.

Comments (4)

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  • B

    BarbNov 9, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Why don’t you do a loan forgiveness program. We have the money and paid a ton of taxes. I know people who went to school and get masters degrees, but because of the Covid lost there jobs, or some with illnesses. It’s a shame. So take my share and do a loan forgiveness program.
    About time this state takes care of others not in 5he metro.

  • R

    Ralph SmedlyNov 9, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    Walz ran for Governor because he knew that Hagadorn would beat him, the next time around. As Governor, he signs everything the DFL legislature puts in front of him.

  • M

    MongoNov 9, 2023 at 8:38 am

    Why didn’t you deploy with your unit, and why did you claim Command Sargeant Major status when you never achieved it?

  • T

    TimNov 8, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    I didn’t see any uncomfortable questions…like spending virtuall the entire surplus, increasing spending by 35%, and 8 new or increased taxes that will all hit the middle class. All done while inflation is at a 40 year high, credit card debt is at historic highs, and average folks are living paycheck to paycheck. Nice puff piece.