Bernie Sanders talks free college, women’s rights at Sunday rally on Pitt’s campus


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd gathered in Schenley Plaza Sunday afternoon.

By Punya Bhasin, News Editor

Sen. Bernie Sanders took the stage at Schenley Plaza Sunday to encourage young Pittsburghers to vote blue in Tuesday’s midterm elections to fight Republican extremism and protect abortion rights. However, his speech was cut short due to heavy rain. 

About 300 people attended the event, which NextGen America and MoveOn Political Action organized, to see Sanders speak, get free t-shirts and listen to live music. This event marked the second political rally on Pitt’s campus this weekend. About 6,000 people gathered in Schenley Plaza Saturday for a rally with Senate candidate John Fetterman and former President Barack Obama. 

The crowd cheered in support as Sanders took the stage. Sanders said if young people came out to vote in the midterm elections they could “transform this country.”

“We have got to come out in huge numbers to tell right-wing extremists that this country belongs to all of us, not just a few,” he said. 

Sanders also mentioned abortion access as a pressing voter issue in Tuesday’s elections, saying people need to band together and vote for Fetterman and Congressional candidate Summer Lee to keep abortion legal across the nation. 

“A couple months ago the Supreme Court in an incredibly stupid and ugly decision said that women in America are not smart enough to control their own bodies,” Sanders said. “I disagree. The right of women to control their own bodies — it’s not just a women’s issue — men stand behind the women.”

Sanders also said “democracy is at stake” in the upcoming elections, and that Republicans need to “have the courage to concede with decency and dignity.” According to the Washington Post, 291 Republicans who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election are on the ballot across the country.

“I never thought as a U.S. senator, I would have to say this, but this campaign is also about whether or not we retain our democracy in a democracy,” Sanders said. “We cannot have former presidents like Trump lying day after day denying the fact that he lost the election or Republicans deciding whether or not they will accept the election results.” 

Sanders also touched on the cost of higher education, saying public college tuition should be free.

“We should invest in public education and make sure we have the best schools in the world,” Sanders said. “Hundreds of thousands of bright young people are not able to afford a higher education and have to leave school, which is why we should make public colleges and universities tuition free.”

Margaret Balich, a junior architectural studies and English writing major, attended the Sanders event and was disappointed by its abrupt end. His speech lasted for about seven minutes. 

“I was a little disappointed that it rained because I was really excited to see him and because of the rain he only got to talk for a few minutes,” Balich said. “It’s unfortunate, especially because I think it would have been cool to hear him talk for longer and really dig into some more issues surrounding voting and the importance of voting in this election.”

Balich said despite the rain, she was still happy she had a chance to see Sanders and plans to vote for democrats. 

“I’m still glad I showed up and got to hear him speak, even if it was just for like five minutes, and I plan to vote for the candidates he’s endorsing, like John Fetterman and Summer Lee, in the midterms,” Balich said. 

Punya Bhasin is the News Editor for The Pitt News. You can follow her work on Twitter @Punya_Bhasin or on Instagram at Bhasin.Punya.