University of Colorado at Boulder students stood in long lines today to snag tickets to hear President Barack Obama speak Tuesday on campus, including several students who got in line in the wee hours of the morning.
At noon, the line for student tickets wound past the University Memorial Center and around Euclid AutoPark. Altogether, there were about 4,500 free tickets available for students and another 1,000 available for faculty and staff members at the University Memorial Center.
“It's a once in a lifetime thing,” said Katie McManus, an open option freshman who waited in line about an hour and a half. “It's important to be politically aware and involved — and this is the President. It's super exciting.”
An undisclosed number of free tickets also will be distributed to the public beginning at noon Monday. Only one ticket per person will be distributed, and tickets are not for sale or re-sale.
Obama will speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Coors Events Center, which has a capacity of about 11,000. Entrance to the Tuesday event is scheduled for 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Boulder is one leg of a three-stop college tour for Obama, who intends to discuss an effort to prevent student loan rates from doubling in July, White House officials said. Obama's other stops include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Iowa.
Additionally, the White House plans to launch a related social media campaign on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ that will involve the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate.
“You don't get the opportunity to hear the President speak very often,” said Patrick Wiltsey, a graduate student in the business school. “I want to hear how he's going to reduce my student loan debt.”
While the line to get student tickets was long for the first couple of hours, by 2 p.m. students were able to walk right in and get one of the 100 or so remaining tickets.
Srrah Algheithy, a senior electrical engineering major, was one of the students with a very short wait. She said she wanted a ticket because “he's a really good speaker. He's very inspirational.”
Amy Helen Chu, a freshman studio arts major, said she's a Republican who wants to hear from the President.
“I want to know both sides,” she said. “It's awesome that he's targeting the student population.”
Though the lines were longer earlier, they still moved quickly — at the rate of about 1,600 tickets an hour, said Carlos Garcia, the University Memorial Center director. Inside the University Memorial Center, there were 12 lines and 24 people issuing tickets to students.
“It's gone very, very well,” Garcia said. “It's the event of a lifetime for our students.”
The faculty and staff line was much shorter than the student line, but there was still a crowd about an hour before the ticket distribution started.
Sociology professor Hillary Potter drove up from Denver and was the first in the staff line at about 9 a.m.
“I just wanted to make sure I would get a ticket,” she said. “I haven't seen Obama yet and this is my opportunity. I just love him.”
Art Figel, an application manager, said he wished he could bring his two daughters to what will be a “historic” event. But, he said, he's still appreciative of the chance to hear the President.
“I'm a huge supporter,” he said.
On Tuesday, students, faculty, staff and the general public will need to present their signed tickets and valid ID. No backpacks will be allowed in the venue and containers of any kind, bottles, cans, guns, knives, pocket-knives, multi-tools, mace, pepper spray, or sharp objects of any kind, other weapons or other hazardous items are prohibited.
Public: Noon today at the ticket office outside the northwest entrance of Coors Events Center