The Daily Illini

Editorial | Keep an open mind about Obama’s speech

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Brace yourselves; Barack Obama is coming.

The former president of the United States will be accepting the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government at 11 a.m. Friday at Foellinger Auditorium.

On Friday 1,300 students from the University of Illinois System will be able to see the former president up close and personal — a once in a lifetime experience.

In the past, University students had the opportunity to see various political leaders such as former Vice President Joe Biden in 2015 and Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, but never a former president.

When the news of Obama’s visit broke last Thursday, many students were eager to apply for tickets, while others showed little to no interest.

The Daily Illini Editorial Board wants students to understand the opportunity to see any living president is a big deal. No matter what your political stance is, you should take advantage of it.

Even if you’re not a fan of Obama, it will still be an incredible experience to hear him speak in person. Whether it’s George Bush, Barack Obama or Donald Trump, you should feel excited to show off your campus to the leaders of America, past or present. For eight years, Obama ran the country with composure and grace. He is an example of leadership University students need — someone we can all aspire to be like.

If you’re one of the 1,300 students to obtain a ticket, don’t take this occasion lightly. We normally wouldn’t encourage you to skip class, but it’s worth it for a former president.

Your professors should understand that this moment in University history is more important than your 11 a.m. Friday discussion during the second week of classes. You could go learn about world politics in class or you could see the person who was the face of it for two presidential terms.

It’s also important to note this speech is not open to the public; that is, only students in the University of Illinois System were eligible for tickets. 

The Daily Illini Editorial Board encourages you to go in with an open mind when seeing someone such as a former president. Even if it’s through your laptop or the live-viewing at Huff Hall, it means something to be witnessing a speech that will surely be remembered for years to come.

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