Community reflects on Kennedy's life
August 26, 2009 9:53 PM
The SF State community reflected today on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's life and political career after the news of his death came late Tuesday evening.
Kennedy died of brain cancer at the age of 77 early Wednesday morning in his home in Massachusetts. Doctors discovered a malignant brain tumor in May 2008 after he suffered from a seizure.
Larry Salomon, an ethnic studies professor, said that in the 70s and 80s, when most Democrats had to compromise their liberal views, Kennedy would not compromise his political values even if it meant losing national support.
"What's remarkable about Kennedy's tenure was that his strongest defense of marginalized people came during the most reactionary political times since World War II," Salomon said. "He was the most fierce and progressive voice when America became more conservative politically."
Weston Spiro, 20, a political science major, said he was a model senator not only because he appeased lobbyists and campaign contributors, but for being able to appease the Republican Party to get a bill passed.
"Losing someone that can allow a unified Congressional House to pass bills that don't necessarily affect them is a tragedy because many Senators are extremely out of touch with a significant amount of the citizenry, particularly less affluent people," Spiro said.
Joel Kassiola, the dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, was saddened by Kennedy's passing, and reflected on what his dedication to public service meant for the American people.
"He was able to make friends of political enemies," Kassiola said. "For Americans he made a lot of difference in terms of policy legislation."
Kassiola said that Kennedy was very important in passing significant legislation in almost every social area including education, health, welfare and supported students in need of financial assistance.
Some of the important acts Kennedy was involved in included the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
"Contemporary students may not realize he was the youngest of nine children and with his passing, the Kennedy era, which I grew up with, is gone," Kassiola said.
Kennedy will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
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