President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union Address that the United States is currently experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in more than five years. In addition, for the first time in more than a decade, the president claimed that business leaders worldwide say the United States is the No. 1 place to invest.
The State of the Union Address was held Tuesday. The American Democracy Project held a State of the Union Watch in the Sky Room of the Shepherd Union Building.
“Obama’s coverage of topics was more (of) ‘this is what I am going to do, and I am not going to let anyone stand in my way,'” said Brady Harris, Weber State University Student Senate president.
The American Democracy Project is an initiative focused on preparing current students to be engaged citizens. Part of the event was a live Twitter feed enabling students in attendance to see what other students watching the State of the Union thought about the president’s speech.
“If I am listening to someone talk for 90 minutes, most of what they say goes in my brain and out, or I am doing something else while watching,” said Leah Murray, professor of political science. “Having the Twitter feeds made the experience more interactive for students.”
Tessa Diamond, WSU leadership vice president, said she was excited about the amount of people who were tweeting about the State of the Union. “Twitter draws a different type of crowd who want to debate without openly debating,” she said, “or who want to share their opinion because they have one. The Twitter feed brought a hipper element to the event.”
Approximately 30 people attended the event, including Harris and student body president David Wilson.
“I was happy about the turnout,” Diamond said. “I did not expect as many people to come as did.”
Diamond and Murray both said they believe there are different reasons for the State of the Union Address.
“The State of the Union Address is a lecture given by the president to Congress and what he wants to have done,” Murray said. “I think President Obama laid out the things he wants done that he has not gotten movement on.” Murray said she believes Obama will spend political money and time on getting everything he promised will happen in the address.
According to Obama in the address, the White House has recently organized a College Opportunity Summit. Universities made commitments to reduce inequality in accessing higher education and to help students succeed when they get to campus.
Obama also said the government is offering millions of people the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. He said he hopes to work with Congress to see how the government can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loans.
“As a part of the American Democracy Project, we want students to leave the State of the Union feeling civically engaged, feeling like they can go out and do something about what they heard,” Diamond said. “The State of the Union is to inform Americans about where the country has been, where we are standing and where the president wants to take us.”
Murray said she believes it is important for students to pay attention to the State of the Union Address, as well as what happens with Congress after the address. “I think it is important for citizens to pay attention when these moments happen.”