I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy person. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid being outside as much as possible — especially overnight. I can count the number of times that I’ve camped out on one hand, and each of those instances has been for a midnight Harry Potter release. While I try to avoid camping at all costs, I’ll have to add another outdoor experience to the tally: Waiting outside the Michigan Union to get my hands on a ticket to President Barack Obama’s speech this morning.

Words cannot describe how exciting it is to know that the president of the United States is going to be on our campus. Today, more than ever, it’s important that our student body pays close attention to what Obama has to say. Conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, Obama’s address presents our student body with an incredible opportunity to hear what he is planning to do for us, as students and as Michigan residents.

Obama’s speech at the University is not simply an opportunity to use political rhetoric to feign interest in our state’s welfare. The president has consistently shown a vested interest in the state of Michigan throughout his time in office. Just months into his presidency, he invested in Michigan’s automobile industry, which saved thousands of jobs and prevented two of the largest employers, General Motors and Chrysler, in our state from shutting down. During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he highlighted Michigan’s economic comeback as an example of American resilience and successful government interventions. Again and again, President Obama has shown his firm commitment to the success of our state.

As University students, we should also pay close attention to Obama’s vision for higher education. With skyrocketing tuition costs, college is becoming increasingly out of reach for many Americans. Many at the University face the prospect of graduating with insurmountable student debt. This frightening future is one that both President and First Lady Michelle Obama have experienced themselves — they spent a decade repaying their own student loans. In his State of the Union address, he discussed rising tuition costs and crippling student loans, and introduced plans to increase work-study opportunities and urge states to make higher education a priority. For a state that cut higher education appropriations by 15 percent last year, Obama’s call to action couldn’t come at a better time.

In November, we will have the opportunity to choose the person who will lead our country for the next four years. When listening to what candidates for the presidency have to say, ask yourself, “What will he or she do for students. For Michigan?”

As a state, we cannot risk electing a candidate like Mitt Romney, a man with Michigan roots who argued that the automakers should be allowed to “go bankrupt.” As students, we cannot afford to elect a candidate like Newt Gingrich, who blames education debt on students’ own irresponsibility. We must take great care to elect the person who supports our state and supports our education. Obama is that candidate.

I am willing to forego my aversion to camping outdoors for only a few people. For a while, only Harry Potter could get me to get out a sleeping bag and camp outside of a bookstore or movie theater. Given the uncertainty facing our country’s future, however, I think I can make an exception for Obama.

As University students, we should be honored that Obama is coming to address the University. His visit shows that he cares about Michigan and about students. It is up to us to give him our attention and support as we move into the most important election of our generation.

Jacob Light is an LSA Freshman. This Viewpoint is written on behalf of the College Democrats.

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