This morning I went with some other 1L classmates to the Al Glick Field House to see President Barack Obama speak at the University of Michigan about college affordability. I had the opportunity to see him deliver the commencement address for the May 2010 graduating class in the Michigan football stadium, but it was cool to be able to go see the speech about an issue directly affecting me this time.
However, there was a big difference in the venue - the "Big House" can hold about 110,000 people and only 3,000 tickets were given out for the Field House. People had to get tickets the day before at the Michigan Union and although I arrived by 6:00am, there were multiple tents and groups of people who had slept the entire night outside. By 7:00am, the line was already winding back down State Street with well over the 3,000 person limit. Luckily, we were able to get tickets after waiting 5.5 hours standing in the line. It was so cold that Mary Sue Coleman's office felt bad for everyone outside and had her staff pass out free coffee for those waiting. We also arrived early for the speech and ended up getting a spot about 5 rows of people back from the gates, so we were able to get pretty close.
|the line winding back down State Street in front of the Union|
The speech was pretty good and right on point in terms of the necessity of higher education and the need to make sure that higher education is affordable for students. "Higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic imperative," he said. Obama noted that for the first time ever, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United States. He also outlined a plan that aims to reward states that keep college tuition down and proposed increasing work study job opportunities and maintaining federal student loan interest rates.
Although I had to miss two classes and stand for hours in a freezing cold line, it was definitely time well spent, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to go. The only downside to this whole experience was that while we were waiting for the speeches to start, whoever was in charge of the music only had five songs total on the playlist - five songs to use for a three hour period of waiting time. One would think that after playing the same set list three times in a row, that they would just stop and not have anything at all playing on the speakers. Oh no. This meant that I heard U2's "City of Blinding Lights" and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" about 20 times more than I ever thought possible in one morning. Here it is again, just for old time's sake: