President Obama waves after being sworn in as the 44th U.S. president at the Capitol in Washington Jan. 20, 2009.
Amanda Chasey can rattle off her favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotation without hesitation.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she said.
It seems fitting, then, that Chasey will attend President Obama’s second inauguration — which happens to coincide with King’s national holiday this year.
“Obama will be standing across from the place where Martin Luther King Jr. stood and gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.”
A junior at Stonehill College, Chasey will attend the Jan. 21 festivities with her class to study the first 100 days of Obama’s second term. She is passionate about equal rights and hopes Obama will prioritize immigration reform, marriage equality and the gender gap in wage equality.
“[Getting citizenship] needs to become easier for people who want to be here and make a difference in our country,” Chasey said on immigration.
Chasey wasn’t the only college student who named immigration as a top issue.
Natasha McKenzie, a junior at Trinity Washington University and president of the D.C. College Democrats, said for her it’s “all about bringing down student loans.” But she wants to hear Obama’s immigration solutions.
“I want him to talk about immigration policy and helping to bridge the gap for people who want to be here but can’t wait for citizenship,” McKenzie said.
Whether Obama will talk about immigration reform in his speech remains to be seen, but USA TODAY reported on Jan. 9 that the president and congressional leaders plan to tackle the issue this year.
Though the 2013 inauguration is unlikely to draw the same 1.8 million people that flocked to the National Mall in 2009, many college students — including Chasey and McKenzie — have landed tickets through campaign volunteering, contests and class work.
Stephen Keimig, a freshman at Franklin Pierce University, said he was too young to attend Obama’s first inauguration. Now he has the opportunity to go as a student journalist and, like Chasey, is looking forward to what Obama has to say.
“I really want him to focus on the issue of health care, student loans and job security,” Keimig said. “After we’ve paid all this money to graduate and there are no jobs for us or one in our field, then that’s a problem for college students trying to build a future.”
One of Obama’s biggest triumphs for students in his first term was keeping federal student loan interest rates from doubling and capping federal student loan repayment at 10% of income. Next on the White House’s education agenda is making college more affordable through tuition and student aid reform.
Ben Ritz, a junior, is the policy director and fiscal policy chair of the American University College Democrats. He sees financial issues and entitlement programs as some of the most important issues facing college students, and wants Obama to address them in his speech. Ritz said the AU College Democrats and College Republicans partnered together in an election season awareness campaign to explain to college students why they should care about those issues now.
“I’m hoping to see a sort of balanced proposal for long-term deficit reduction and a solution to Social Security and Medicare,” Ritz said. “That’s our future.”
Powered by Facebook Comments