Senator Stabenow to visit GVSU

Courtesy Photo /

Courtesy Photo / Stabenow

Samantha Butcher

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will visit Grand Valley State University tonight as part of the Women’s Center’s Women and Politics series.

The event, “Just Seventeen Percent: Reflections from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow,” will focus on Stabenow’s experiences as one of 17 female senators. The lecture will be held in room 119 of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences downtown at 5 p.m. Stabenow will speak for 30 minutes, followed by a 30 minute meet and greet with attendees.

“I think this is a unique opportunity – it’s not often that we are able to bring in a speaker, especially a senator, for this amount of time,” said Ashley Nickels, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “There are lots of opportunities to do brief meet and greets, but she’s going to be with us for an hour, so we can hear her story about being a woman senator and be able to connect with her.”

Stabenow served in both the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate before making history when she became the first female U.S. senator elected from Michigan in 2000.

Nickels said she sees a high demand from students who want to see women in leadership roles through her work in the Women’s Center. She said she hopes Stabenow’s visit will encourage women on campus to get involved in politics and other male-dominated fields.

“We talk a lot about representation of women in politics, and I think this will give a voice to that experience, and a unique voice, because there’s only one hundred senators and only seventeen women at that, so we have a very fortunate opportunity to hear first person what that experience has been like, as well as a potential for someone to see themselves in that role,” she said. “Regardless of politics as far as partisanship, seeing women in leadership is definitely a motivator for women to see themselves in that role.”

Past Women and Politics events, which have featured Michigan representatives like Sen. Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Township) and Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), have had about 50 attendees each, but Nickels anticipates that Stabenow’s appearance will draw double that amount.

Parking is limited, so GVSU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to park at the DeVos campus and take the DASH to the Hill shuttle to CHS.

The event is free and open to the public.

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