Bates Democrats plan tribute to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota

Inviting attendees to pen letters to their congressional representatives for or against invading Iraq, the Bates Democrats will host a tribute in words and song to the life and accomplishments of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave. Refreshments will be served, and the public is invited to attend free of charge.

The voice of populism, Wellstone died in an Oct. 25 plane crash in northern Minnesota with his wife, Sheila, his daughter Marsha, three of his staff and two pilots just days before the conclusion of his closely contested Senate re-election campaign.

“In his tenure as a selfless public servant, he fought hard for the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled and for the well-being of all,” said Bates senior Matt Scherzer of Simsbury, Conn., co-president of the Bates Democrats.

Wellstone always voted on his principles, said Scherzer, even when it jeopardized his political career. For instance, Wellstone was the only U.S. senator seeking re-election who opposed President Bush’s resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, said Scherzer. At the Bates tribute, participants will have the opportunity to write their congressional representatives to voice their support for or dissent from war in Iraq. “Like Sen. Wellstone, we will not shy away from what we believe in. We will not be afraid to speak our minds,” Scherzer declared.

William Hiss, vice president for external and alumni affairs at Bates College, will discuss Wellstone’s legacy and greatest accomplishments. Christopher Beam, archivist at the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library at Bates, will follow Hiss’ remarks with comments about war with Iraq. The Deansmen, an all-male a cappella ensemble at Bates, will perform a patriotic song.

In sponsoring the tribute, the campus Democrats hope to inspire future political activists with Wellstone’s example. “High school and college students must understand the importance of living up to their goals and principles, even when it is inconvenient to maintain those principles,” said Bates senior Erin Russ of Buffalo, N.Y., co-president of the Bates Democrats.

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