ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - Thousands of students and faculty wrapped in blankets have been waiting outside the Michigan Union since Wednesday night, hoping to get tickets to hear President Barack Obama’s speech at the Ann Arbor campus Friday.
Obama is wrapping up a tour of speeches detailing his 2012 economic policy goals. He’s expected to talk about education, training proposals and college affordability when he stops at the University of Michigan.
WWJ Newsradio 950′s Ron Dewey was amid the huddled masses Thursday morning, where he ran into Alexis Dryen, an out-of-state student from New York City who said it’s getting tougher to pay rising tuition costs.
“I just want the president to reach out to a bunch of students who are willing to vote. Most people are unsure right now about who’ll they’ll vote for, but I think it’s good that he’s coming and he’s going to influence, all of us are of voting age and if he wouldn’t have come, who knows if we would even go to the polls and vote for him,” said Dryen.
Priya Rengaraj of Rochester and Akashay Moorchy of Westland withstood the 29 degree cold for their Obama tickets. The students said they are very interested to hear the president’s views on the rising cost of tuition.
“It’s kind of getting crazy expensive. We definitely can’t afford it on our own. We need our parents’ help at this point,” said Rengaraj.
Adam Fuller, a political science major from Grand Rapids, is eager to hear the president’s views on scholarships and grants.
“It would be nice if politicians would stop considering cutting Pell grants. I’m personally a recipient so, it’s a big help, that’s $3,500 I don’t need to come up with in scholarship money. But honestly, I’m open to any suggestions that the president has,” said Fuller.
Fuller said he knows he’s in the minority of those students getting scholarships and grants to pay their tuition bill, while others depend on parents and an assortment of jobs to stay in college.
U of M faculty member Tevan Evans said he waited since 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and got the first ticket.
Was it worth it?
“Absolutely, I’d do it again,” said Evans, a self-described die hard fan. ”I thought I’d be at the back of the line. I had no idea no clue I’d be first.”
“I hope he speaks more about the progressive issues that he put forward in the state of the union,” he added. ”I hope he talks more about his health care initiative and about this Buffet tax. I’m really excited to hear what he had to say.”
Obama is expected to focus on college affordability in what will be his second visit to the campus.
By Thursday afternoon, about a dozen people had taken to Craigslist seeking tickets for the speech. But scoring one could cost quite a bit. All the tickets being sold on the site were going for $150 or more.
The school gave away about 3,000 tickets for free.
Stay with WWJ and CBSDetroit.com for complete coverage of the president’s speech.