For the first time in 58 years, a sitting U.S. president gave a speech on campus this spring. President Barack Obama visited CU April 24 to discuss the need for more affordable higher education. University community members and the public waited in line for hours in the days leading up to his visit to get free tickets to his speech.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was the last sitting president to visit campus in 1954.
Obama urged the crowd of 10,000 to petition Congress to stop student loan interest rates from doubling. Without the intervention of Congress, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1, according to a White House news release.
“Michelle and I, we know about this firsthand,” he told the crowd, noting he and his wife finished paying off their loans eight years ago. “We’ve been in your shoes. When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt, both of us.”
Prior to arriving at the Coors Events Center, the President made a brief stop at The Sink, much to the surprise of the pub’s nearly 50 diners. While at the legendary Hill establishment, he spoke with patrons and signed the wall next to the signature of Guy Fieri, host of the popular Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. He also ordered a pepperoni, sausage and vegetable pizza named the “Sinkza,” which has since been renamed “POTUS.”
As the president stepped outside, freshman Kolbi Zerbest placed her fruit smoothie on the ground, which promptly splattered on Obama’s pants after it was accidentally kicked by a photographer. The incident, dubbed by the campus community as “Yogurtgate,” was jokingly referenced by the President in his speech.