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First president to visit UNF swoops, speaks for Clinton campaign


Video by Jack Drain

On the morning of Nov. 3, people began lining up in front of the UNF Arena as early as 1 a.m. Though the university didn’t officially cancel classes, many students stated that theirs had been canceled, and if it wasn’t, they decided it was worth it to skip. Lines wrapped around campus, traffic backed up almost to the St. Johns Town Center, and students stood in line behind secret service agents in the Student Union.

All for the visit from President Barack Obama that marked this a historic day for UNF.

“I feel pretty lucky. This is the first time a sitting president has come to UNF so I’m pretty grateful for that,” said public health junior Josh Brown. “I had a stats class at 9:30 a.m and I was standing in line the whole time.”

Attendees all got out their phones when Obama walked onto the stage. Photo by Lili Weinstein
Attendees all got out their phones when Obama walked onto the stage. Photo by Lili Weinstein

At 12:30 p.m., the doors to the Arena opened up, and over the next several hours 7,200 people filed in through metal detectors resembling airport security. Beyond that, 1,000 were let into the Field House, where they watched the rally on large screens.  

“It’s actually a really big deal — this is a huge turnout, a lot more than I expected,” said biology freshman Tyree King. “But I’m here for the experience. The president is coming to campus, there’s no way I could really miss that. I had two classes today. But… Obama.”

The event began with various Florida representatives associated with the democratic party expressing their support for Hillary Clinton, and touching on hot button issues like education, healthcare, social justice and student debt.

Then Jesse Ann Broughton, the president of the UNF College Democrats, presented a brief speech preceding and introducing Obama. He walked out through a cheering crowd, hugged her, and then did what was arguably the best part of his appearance — he swooped.

He started out with a little bit of history, talking about changes that have been made since he took office, in areas like the job market, the fight against ISIS, international affairs and civil rights.

He spoke for a bit on Clinton’s opposition, Donald Trump — commenting on his temperament and business methods, and questioning whether a multi-billionaire will actually help the working class. He drew attention to the nature of this election, comparing it to a reality TV show, and expressed fear for how a Trump presidency would affect our democracy.

“Someone who gets riled up about an SNL skit is not someone you want to trust with nuclear codes,” Obama said.

Obama is the first sitting president to visit UNF’s campus. Photo by Lili Weinstein

In his promotion of Clinton, he talked about her political history working for human rights and this country and said he believes she is one of the most qualified people to ever run for office.

“She made me a better president. She payed her dues,” Obama said. He consistently and confidently referred to her as our next president, without acknowledging any chance of another outcome.

Much of the speech revolved around the central idea that young people have the power to bend history and shape their own futures based on who and what they choose to support in this election.

He ended his speech on a high note, saying that though he isn’t on the ballot, everything he’s supported over the last eight years is. His speech showed a strong resemblance to one given this morning in Miami, just catered more to the Jacksonville area. Despite this, his presence on campus was still widely well-received.  

“He’s on his way out, but it’s something I think is memorable,” said FSCJ biomed student RoQuise Lee. “Every student at UNF should be proud that the president, who is still the current president today, is at your school.”

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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  • A

    ad2016Nov 4, 2016 at 8:41 am

    “She made me a better president. She payed her dues,” Obama said.

    #1. If you think Obama ever became a better president,…
    #2. If you think Hillary “paid dues” or collected enough dues from foreign governments,…

    If college teaches you to be a critical thinker…great.

    If college teaches you what to think by making you think you came to that conclusion,…think again.


  • J

    jesusNov 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Let’s all hope we never see him or hitlerry again