Reacting to Trump's speech

President Donald Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Jim Lo Scalzo/AP)

President Donald J. Trump delivered his first formal address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

Highlights of Trump’s speech included discussion of his immigration policy, infrastructure development goals and increases in military spending to ‘eliminate’ conflict in the Near East.

“Trump’s address last night made me optimistic in that he displayed a professionalism that is needed in a leader,” seventh-semester Applied Mathematics major and president of UConn Pistol and Rifle Club Christopher Zins said. “This does not excuse his past remarks and several of his policy stances, but if he continues to compose himself the way he did then, there is hope that things will not be as bad as many suspected. I personally am troubled by a lot of his policies from his stances on immigration to his approach to health care.”

Immigration was one of the central themes for his speech guests. Three of the guests were family members of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

To combat such offenses committed by undocumented immigrants, Trump proposed the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office through the Department of Homeland Security to investigate. No mentions were made of similar national investigations to address violence committed by law enforcement.

“He’s creating a signal that people can pick and choose from in whatever way makes them feel most comfortable,” political science professor Ronald Schurin said. “His very virulent, anti-immigrant base will still be happy because he is pushing for the wall and talking about getting rid of true undesirable of the undocumented. Those who look for a little more moderation will feel a little more reassured (from the speech). How long those two can remain side-by-side, remains to be seen.”

Along with these policies, Trump has also alluded to paid family leave provisions.

“It is important to have good policy rather than just any piece of legislation,” seventh-semester political science and human rights major Erin Dunn said. “Poor law creates empty policy. These paid leave initiatives are tied to greater gender equity, giving women AND men the opportunity to balance caregiving responsibilities and furthering their careers, without losing income. I worry that the policy promoted by the President’s administration will not provide comprehensive coverage and will ignore the implications for gender equity.”

Dunn has previously interned with Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund and worked on their paid family leave programming.

When asked the significance of the speech for the UConn community, Schurin commented on the presidential nature of Trump, in contrast to prior speeches.

“This is his first opportunity, and he has made good use of it, to appear presidential,” Schurin said. “He has proven that he can make an 80-minute speech without sinking into childish catcalls. Trump has also laid out his agenda. These will be the points that will be debated over the next couple months. For those concerned with public policy, this is where they can look closely at what has been said and react to what has been left unsaid.”


Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at elizabeth.charash@uconn.edu.