Following yesterday’s announcement that President Barack Obama will be speaking at the University this Friday, campus leaders and students on both sides of the aisle expressed excitement for the upcoming visit from the nation’s leader.

Though Obama is expected to discuss college affordability in his speech, students said they hope he also discusses ongoing issues pertaining to job growth and rebuilding the economy in Michigan — topics particularly important to students getting ready to enter the workforce.

Anton Dirnberger, chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said though he disagrees with Obama’s views on several issues, he respects the “office of the presidency.”

“I think as a Wolverine, that’s great to have the President — no matter what party he is a part of — come to campus,” Dirnberger said.

However, Dirnberger expressed frustration that Obama is attempting to garner electoral support amid economic difficulties that continue to afflict the nation, adding that he anticipates that the president will be more focused on campaigning in his speech than discussing impactful policy.

“It’s pretty much a campaign speech — we all know that,” Dirnberger said. “I wish, and I think a lot of people do, that he would spend more time trying to work out some ideal situations to get some Americans back to work.”

Dirnberger said though he would be somewhat interested in hearing Obama’s views on higher education, he would rather hear him speak about his decision to reject plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline — a transnational project that would install an oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas.

“I know he definitely won’t be talking about that, but that’s what I would like to hear,” Dirnberger said.

Dirnberger said he hopes that Obama won’t suggest raising taxes to make college more affordable.

Though about 50 students protested at House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va) speech at the Michigan League in October, Dirnberger said the group does not plan to protest against Obama’s speech, adding that he was particularly upset with the protests staged during Cantor’s speech.

“As a Wolverine, I think we should hold ourselves to higher standards,” Dirnberger said.

Amanda Caldwell, chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats, said she has received various e-mails from members requesting information about the upcoming speech, including students not involved with the organization inquiring about obtaining tickets.

“We are all very excited for him to visit,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said she expects that the president will discuss financial strains on students and highlight research being done at the University, adding that his speech will likely be related to his State of the Union address tonight.

In addition to college affordability, Rackham student Hakeem Jefferson said he anticipates Obama to speak about job growth or educational initiatives — topics he said he thinks are important to improve the state’s economy.

“I’m excited that the president’s coming to town,” Jefferson said. “I think it’s important for him to come to town not only because he’s looking to get elected in November, but because Michigan probably needs to hear more about his jobs plan and … know more about what he’s going to do to help the economy improve.”

Nursing freshman Monica Sehgal said she’s happy that the president is returning to campus following his 2010 Spring Commencement address. But, because this is Obama’s second trip to the University in the past two years, Sehgal said the president should also make an effort to visit other colleges in Michigan.

“I feel like he’s coming to the University of Michigan because it’s a liberal school,” Sehgal said.

LSA junior Ifeoma Dike argued that Obama represents a stark contrast to former President George W. Bush, who didn’t visit the University during his eight years in office.

“For me, it’s very monumental because I know this is his second time coming,” Dike said. “It’s really good for our generation and for the school.”

Like Sehgal, Dike said other cities, like Detroit, would benefit from a visit from the president.

“If he came to Detroit, I think that would show that he is benevolent, and that he is very interested in rebuilding the community,” Dike said.

LSA junior Gabriela Recinos said Ann Arbor’s central location makes it an ideal place for Obama’s speech.

“Ann Arbor is a pretty good place because a lot of people can come,” Recinos said. “People from (Ypsilanti) can come, people from Detroit can come and hopefully people from outside of Ann Arbor will come.”

Rackham student Brad Kent said he is looking forward to hearing Obama elaborate on issues discussed in his State of the Union address.

“I’m glad that he’s coming, and I’m excited that he’s going to come after he gives the State of the Union address so we can hear him expound on his plans,” Kent said.

LSA freshman Ken Leaton said he is looking forward to hearing Obama discuss his plans leading into November’s 2012 election.

“I’m definitely excited to see him because I’m interested to hear what he’ll say for the upcoming election, “Leaton said. “I will definitely try to go.”

—The Associated Press, Austen Hufford and Daily News Editors Haley Glatthorn and Haley Goldberg contributed to this report.

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