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UNC prepares for President Obama's visit to Hooker Fields

Volunteers help students sign up for tickets for the upcoming campaign rally with the U.S. President.
Volunteers help students sign up for tickets for the upcoming campaign rally with the U.S. President.

Political organizations on campus including the UNC Young Democrats and Turn NC Carolina Blue have been busy preparing for the visit by engaging the student body and providing information on how to get tickets.

“In preparation for this speech, we have been trying to build our volunteer base as large as possible. It is going to take a lot of manpower to handle the logistical challenges that come with maintaining a secret security perimeter and with handling this volume of people,” said Courtney Sams, the president of UNC Young Democrats.

“It also takes a lot of volunteers to help turn all of these people at an event into voters and to take them to the polls afterward. So our primary task has been building a volunteer base and training them.”

Brian Litchfield, director of Chapel Hill Transit, said a total of six bus routes will be affected from 12:30-5 p.m.

“The CCX, FCX, G, RU, S and V will all be detoured during that time, and the main thing is that it’s going to affect closure on South Road basically in the area of where the presidential visit will be taking place,” he said.

Litchfield said he hopes that people traveling today are patient with the bus system and the delays.

According to the Clinton campaign, events like this one are crucial in stressing the importance of early voting and informing students on where and when they can vote.

Lindsay Macchio, a volunteer for Turn NC Carolina Blue and secretary for UNC Young Democrats, said she is excited for the president to visit because she thinks it will be great for rallying students to get out and vote.

“It’s just really awesome to have a sitting president come to UNC,” Macchio said. “Honestly, no matter who you are, getting to see a sitting president is really awesome.”

Turn NC Carolina Blue volunteers have been trained in how to facilitate the event, and they will provide students with information on how to get tickets and what the benefits are of having a paper ticket versus an online RSVP ticket. Sams said either type of ticket is acceptable, and there will be separate lines for each ticket type at the event.

Sams said UNC Young Democrats has achieved its goal of informing students about politics and the role they have in this election cycle.

“This is one of the largest events we’ve ever hosted, so it’s been great for publicity. It’s also been great because the primary role of UNC Young Democrats during an election season is to expand the ballot access for everyone,” she said. “By having someone as visible as President Obama come, we’ve really achieved our goal because nearly every student on campus is thinking about politics and thinking about Democratic candidates and how they can get out to hear from them.”

The Clinton campaign has paid staff on college campuses across the state, a paid organizer at UNC and volunteers assisting with voter registration. According to the campaign, the president’s speech is another push before Saturday’s deadline.

Sams said she believes it is important for students to get involved in politics as young as they possibly can and college is, for a lot of students, the first chance to do that.

“Politics is something that affects everything from the cost of our tuition to whether or not we have health care on campus to the quality of our instructors,” she said. “The personal is really political when you’re in college, so it’s so important to get out and vote your conscience and vote the way you feel led based on those personal issues.”

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