MU students discuss Obama, presidency

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | 8:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:07 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — MU students gathered Wednesday evening to discuss President Barack Obama and his presidency as part of the "You in Mizzou" discussion series, which focuses on diversity issues.

MU sophomore Maddie Webb said the event was “not what I expected. … (The discussion) was fulfilling. I was really disappointed when I realized people were there just for a class — but then they were very informed.”

Almost 70 people attended the event, and many students said they were fulfilling a class requirement.

The room was divided into three smaller discussion groups, which were instructed to dissect the night’s topic.

One group discussed the trend of past presidents' attendance at selective private colleges.

Given that Obama graduated from Columbia University, MU sophomore Jonathan Ketz asked if attending an Ivy League school would become the requirement for presidency.

In response, MU senior and group facilitator David Rodick asked what were Obama's qualities that made him likeable.

"At the time when our country was really torn apart, (Obama) was able to get people really excited about politics," Alex Smoldt, an MU freshman, said.

Kelsey Kennedy, an MU freshman, said one of the main criticisms of former President George W. Bush was the deficit. "Then Obama spent $140 million on the inauguration. … Eventually someone’s got to pay that back, and it’s not going to be our parents,” Kennedy said.

Alana Young, an MU sophomore, spoke about the economy, specifically the increasing unemployment rate. She said that for her generation, “it’s hard to appreciate how big of a deal it is.”

One of the final questions of the night encouraged participants to reflect on how their own children or future children might understand Obama’s election. Kennedy said she hopes they view the occurrence of an African-American president as an “everyday thing.”

"You in Mizzou" coordinator Malaika Gallimore said, “Everyone got something different than what they thought they would.”

She added that Wednesday’s turnout was more than usual and that the group has “very good dialogue, regardless of how many people (are there).”

Webb said that the discussion made her feel “pleasantly proud of (my) age group.”

The next "You in Mizzou" discussion, “Women in the Workplace: Crashing Through the Glass Ceiling,” will be at 5:30 p.m. March 4 in S-207 Memorial Union.

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