Thursday, Jul 09, 2020

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President Obama speaks to a crowd of 14,000 people on the College Green of Ohio University.

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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OHIO talks about Obama

Ohio University and Athens community members share their thoughts on President Obama’s visit

More than 14,000 people poured into the College Green on Ohio University's Athens Campus Wednesday to listen to President Barack Obama. He had been invited to the Athens Campus by the College Democrats, and the crowd featured a mix of students, faculty, staff and community members.

Compass spoke to the attendees about why they were there and what this evening meant to them.

"This is unreal for me personally. I've been working really hard for four years, and I'm just really, really happy."
Shannon Welch, senior, Political Science, president of the College Democrats

"I never in my life thought I'd get to meet the president. I can't wait to tell my mom."
Jamie Shaw, senior, Communications

"I think that regardless of your political affiliation, to have the leader of the United States on your campus and available is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The University did an amazing job of working with everybody and understanding how important this was. It was one of those things that no matter who you are, you were a part of history. You were there, you witnessed it and the atmosphere was amazing. It was something you just had to be at."
Laura Waters-Brown, graduate student, MBA and Sports Administration

"It was amazing. This is the first rally that I've been to. This is the first presidential event that I've been to. I voted by absentee ballot a week ago, and I'm very proud to have voted for the man that I saw tonight."
Mary Holten, sophomore, Social Studies, Education, History

"I thought I'd come out to see the president and see what he had to say to the students. It's awesome. You might never get another chance in your life to see a president like this, so close."
Chris Black, senior, Sports Management

"It was awesome. Athens is such a small town. We really don't get to experience a lot of this stuff. It makes our school stand out. When I heard about the event, I said 'The president is coming – that's so cool.' I think his appearance could inspire more students to vote. I like how he said that we're not just one vote per person, everybody has to get out there and do their part."
Colleen Finnegan, junior, Education

"It was great to a man that we respect and care so much about in-person, so close. And it's a great opportunity... After watching the debate last night, and experiencing that, and then seeing this first hand, it was very eye opening and very pleasing."
Jason Tingley, junior, Forensic Chemistry

"It was amazing. I still can't believe that he came to visit us here in little old Athens. But it was wonderful to see such a huge turnout in the community. I survived the longest line I've ever been in in my entire life."
Beth Clodfelter, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards

"The whole thing was just sort of surreal. I actually didn't even believe he was coming here at first when I heard it. We were one of the first people in line on Sunday. We were there at 9 in the morning to wait. And then we've been here since 12 today in line. So it's been exciting."
Alexis Smith, senior, Psychology

"It was very exciting. There was a big crowd. I've never seen a sitting president before. I'm not invited to Washington too often."
Tom Altier, community member

"It's great that he (Obama) came to Ohio University to fire us all up. It was a wonderful opportunity tonight and I'm so glad that so many people showed up. I have not seen a bigger crowd in my almost seven years here. (His visit) prepares you to be more optimistic about the future of not only the United States but also Ohio University."
Amrit Singh, Langston Hughes Professor of English and African American Studies

"It was really good. I had seen him before in my hometown of Cincinnati. I really liked how he said, 'Don't boo. Vote.' So that was really good."
Brianna Gibson, freshman, Sociology/Criminology

Obama talks about OHIO

The Ohio University and Athens communities were not the only people with opinions last night. President Barack Obama spoke about OHIO and about the importance of getting out to vote.

“I came here today because I heard you’ve got a pretty fun football team to watch," said President Obama. “Undefeated, if I'm not mistaken. A shot at the MAC Championship. Maybe a BCS bid. I just want to point out that I was pushing for a playoff system -- we got a playoff system. One more promise kept, for those of you who are following college football. But it is outstanding the Bobcats are doing so well, so I want to wish you guys luck in the upcoming season.”

Later he said:

“Go vote. See, my assumption is if you're here, you're going to vote. So you’ve got to go back to your dorm, grab that guy who’s sitting there eating chips, watching SportsCenter. Tell him he’s got to vote, too.”

On several occasions he also chided the emotive crowd, "Don't boo! Vote!"