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Gov. Cox Discusses Social Media, Israel in October Press Conference

He also talked about the race for Mitt Romney’s Senate seat and the increase in enrollment in Utah’s higher ed institutions.
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Laura Seitz
(Image Courtesy of Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

 

In Gov. Spencer Cox’s October monthly press conference, he had strong words regarding a new Utah law requiring social media sites to verify that users are above the age of 18.

“These social media companies are making billions of dollars off of killing our kids,” he said. Cox added that he does not think the restrictions are difficult to achieve despite concerns, and that Utah will not be the only state doing this.

“This is the most bipartisan issue I’ve worked on in a long, long time,” Cox said. “When President Biden came here to the state of Utah, the first thing he wanted to do was talk to me about the bill we were able to get done because he wants things done in Congress as well.”

In the Thursday morning conference, Cox also addressed issues such as the race for Sen. Mitt Romney’s soon-to-be vacant seat, the war between Israel and Hamas and enrollment in Utah’s higher education institutions.

The Senate Race

Cox said that he plans to endorse former Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson for the Senate seat.

“Speaker Wilson is not just a great human being but an incredible public servant,” he said. “And if we had 100 Brad Wilsons in the Senate and 435 in the House, our country would be in a much better place.”

Cox also answered questions about potential candidate Tim Ballard and the ongoing lawsuit from several women who have accused Ballard of sexual assault.

“I think that prosecutors would have a duty to investigate,” he said, adding that everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has had a public friendship with Ballard in the past, but Cox said he did not think this affects the ability of the attorney general’s office to conduct a thorough and fair investigation. 

“When it comes to the attorney general’s office, they have the ability of course to wall off the attorney general who has a relationship there,” he said. “And I would expect that whatever they do, they would make sure that it is done fairly and without any influence from the attorney general.”

Israel and Palestine

Cox also addressed the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza, stating that his office has not had any conversations with the Biden administration about whether or not they will be accepting Palestinian refugees from Gaza. 

He added that it’s important the country and the state do not allow refugees who are “sympathetic to destroying Israel and Jews” in.

“I think that that can be very dangerous,” he said. “But we’ll have those conversations if and when the administration makes a decision if they’re going to be allowing refugees into the country.”

Cox added that he has “no empathy” for Hamas, but affirmed his support for Palestinians living in Utah.

“My message to Palestinians is that our hearts are broken for you as well,” he said. “This is a deeply difficult and of course divisive issue. I will say I have zero empathy for Hamas at all, and Hamas is bad for Palestinians. Hamas is evil. And I hope that Palestinians everywhere will stand up and speak up and reject what has happened.”

Higher Education’s Higher Enrollment

Finally, Cox spoke about the recent news that enrollment in Utah’s public colleges and universities has risen again this year.

The data released on Tuesday showed that Weber State University, Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University have all broken previous overall enrollment records. The University of Utah has broken its record for number of first-year students — for the fourth consecutive year.

“It’s great news actually, because there are lots of states where they’re seeing declining enrollment in higher ed,” Cox said. “And I think what it means is that we have a great opportunity to keep costs low.”

Despite this, he added that he is “much more interested” in graduation rates than enrollment numbers. 

“That disparity worries me because if you enroll, you spend money, you may go into debt …” he said. “And if you don’t come out with a degree or certificate on the other side, then you may be worse off.”

Because of this, he said Utah’s universities should be focused on offering a “high-quality education” that is aligned with career opportunities, as well as filling gaps that currently exist in the workforce.

 

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@caelrobertsnews

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About the Contributor
Caelan Roberts
Caelan Roberts, News Editor
Cael is double majoring in English and journalism which gives him a chance to fully explore his passion of writing. He loves working at the Chronicle and is excited for the opportunity to edit on the news desk and work with leadership and writers.

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