Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, was a big day for Parkside and a milestone for many students and members of the Kenosha county community. With Joe Biden doing a day long tour of Wisconsin, stopping at UW-Oshkosh, then down here at UW-Parkside, it was a chance for many people to hear a statesman speak publicly. The significance was not lost on the students here.
Around 1,500 people came to see Vice President Biden, many of them students, several of them clearly showing support, along with their fellow students who served as volunteers for the event. When the Vice President took the podium after several other speakers, there was much shouting coming from the crowd. There was a crackling energy near the end of his speech from students when he mentioned women’s rights, abortion, planned parenthood, healthcare, and especially Pell Grants and education. Students were energized, motivated, and involved-except in the eyes of a few.
Many came to the event, saw the 1,500 person crowd, saw the amount of students and wondered if there were as many as there could have been, had more tickets been printed. They could have fit several dozen more students into the gymnasium, giving young people a chance to support their candidate, or at least hear one of their country’s leaders speak. There were many at the event that actually weren’t there to support the Vice President’s campaign for the Obama-Biden ticket to the White House. Some students came with respect to the historical significance of seeing a Vice President on the campaign trail. However, a few were disappointed with what they perceived as an underrepresented student body.
Michelle Schmidt, 23, a senior here at Parkside had this to say: “It was extremely disappointing to see the lack of student turn out. For an election where both candidates seem to be reaching out to young voters, you’d think students would be more interested in attending. Even though I do not share the same political views as Biden, I chose to attend to be well-versed on political issues; simply, this was an event that many people cannot say they have had the opportunity to experience.”
Others, like Loren Odom, 19, a sophomore and self-described Romney supporter remarked on the event in a more contented tone, “It was a good event and I enjoyed it,” but when asked whether he felt students were engaged and involved he added, “I’d say so, but only because it was a once in a life time kind of event.”
Article by James T. Burns