Students gathered around televisions across campus Tuesday night to listen to President Barack Obama deliver his fifth State of the Union address.
With multiple watch parties scheduled at both Memorial Union and Union South, interested students had many opportunities to access tonight’s presidential address.
Kristian Iliev, a freshman majoring in political science, attended the Lakefront at Langdon watch party hosted by the Young Progressives. Iliev shared his expectations for the speech as students gathered around a large screen TV to watch legislators take their place to watch the president’s speech.
“I expect the president to come out strong, with a more forceful tone,” Iliev said.
Immigration, lowering unemployment and possibly jokes about the problems surrounding the rollout of Obamacare were also topics students said they expected Obama to address.
The speech itself touched on a multitude of Obama’s policy goals including fixing the immigration system, providing better training for those entering the workforce, expanding education, raising the minimum wage and implementing the Affordable Care Act.
“I want us to be able to say, ‘Yes we did,’” Obama said.
Other new policy objectives the president outlined included connecting schools and students to broadband Internet, capping student loan payments at 10 percent of an individual’s income, raising the federal minimum wage, removing all troops from Afghanistan and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the year.
Obama also said despite a troubled launch, the Affordable Care Act has allowed individuals under the age of 26 access to health care under their parents’ plans and prevents those with pre-existing conditions from losing their coverage.
“That’s what health insurance reform is all about: The peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything,” Obama said. “The American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles.”
Other students chose to watch the State of the Union in the comfort of their own homes over YouTube or the White House’s interactive streaming format.
Chloe Croke, a University of Wisconsin senior, said it seemed like the president summarized too many issues.
“I thought he should have focused on more specific things as opposed to multiple little things,” Croke said.
Elizabeth Bigelow, a junior, said she agreed the speech was somewhat general in nature, but said she appreciated the inclusion of “real-life” individuals in discussing issues like unemployment and health insurance.
She also said the option to view the speech online was convenient. She said tonight was one of the first times she was able to view the majority of the speech live because it was so easily accessible.
“That was the first time I’ve actually listened to it for that long,” Bigelow said. “I’ve usually only gotten bits and pieces of it.”