UW students prepare for president’s visit to campus

Oct. 4, 2012

by Aimee Katz

As President Barack Obama makes his way to speak in front of thousands on Bascom Hill on Oct. 4 — a month before the 2012 presidential election — many students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are adjusting their schedules accordingly to attend the historic event.

Photo: Students in line

A line of students waiting to see the president snaked its way between Bascom and Ingraham halls, and west down Observatory Drive.

“It’s a great opportunity to become informed as we head toward the election,” says UW senior Heather Laing. “Most days, we don’t get the chance to hear from the leaders of our country. Events like this should serve as a reminder of the benefits of living in Wisconsin’s capital city.”

Other students echo this sentiment, saying they are looking forward to seeing to the president speak live in Madison, less than 24 hours after his first debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“I’m curious to see how much he’ll address education reform, given he’s at a national research university,” says sophomore Nathaniel Scharping, adding that he is quite impressed that the UW can draw a president to campus so often — and that, for him, the spectacle is worth the wait.

Some others, however, say they will ignore Bascom Mall, knowing the heavy crowds and long lines that the event will draw.

President Obama’s speech has meant that many students have to decide whether to go to class or to attend the Obama for America’s campaign event.

“I haven’t seen the president before, so maybe I’ll just go to see him once, so I’ll get to say for the rest of my life that I saw a sitting president speak in person,” says Austin Noll, a UW senior. “Really, though, it depends on the lines when I go to class.”

“It was a momentous occasion when a sitting president came two years ago, but in an election year, it makes the president’s visit even more memorable,” says senior Emily Connor, recalling Obama’s 2010 speech on the campus’s Library Mall. “The occasion is a real testament to the importance of Wisconsin’s role in the upcoming election.” 

Kate Northey, a senior with 18 credits and a part-time job under her belt, knows where she will be when the president takes the stage on Bascom Hill. “I’m not going to remember sitting class,” she says. “I am going to remember the president speaking in one of the most iconic places of my school.”