Sen. Dick Durbin speaks to Students for Barack Obama

Senator Dick Durbin speaks with Students For Barack Obama on Tuesday night in Gregory Hall. Erica Magda

Senator Dick Durbin speaks with Students For Barack Obama on Tuesday night in Gregory Hall. Erica Magda

By Michael Logli

Students for Barack Obama, a Registered Student Organization supporting democratic candidates nationally and locally, received a welcome surprise when Illinois State Sen. Dick Durbin appeared Tuesday night.

Durbin is running for re-election this year, but his speech focused on bringing the party together to support Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, D-Ill. Durbin was also joined by state Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-52nd, and state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103rd, who also spoke to the students.

“I come every year,” Frerichs said. “College Democrats help me in elections every year. Even though I’m not running this year, they can help Sen. Durbin.”

Frerichs attributes his successful past campaigns to groups like Students for Barack Obama and the power they can hold.

“They make the difference,” Frerichs said.

After the speeches ended, the students took a break to eat pizza before continuing with their agenda that night. For some members, Durbin’s appearance still held their attention.

“I was impressed by his tone and his down-to-earthness,” said Alex Hillmer-McGee, freshman in LAS.

Hillmer-McGee said he joined Students for Barack Obama because he believes in Obama’s ideas and his ability to make change happen. He said he went door-to-door in Indiana last week to encourage people to vote for Obama.

“My family has suffered a lot thanks to George W. Bush, specifically because of his education laws,” Hillmer-McGee said. “(Obama) is the one person that can bring change to the United States.”

Stephanie Mulka, senior in LAS, said she also wants to encourage people to register to vote this year, regardless of party affiliation. She said she was also very impressed by Durbin’s speech and was happy to get the chance to meet him.

“Just the fact that he was here was a great surprise to all of us,” Mulka said. “Having him here made it more special.”