UB students discuss Clinton’s visit, potential presidency
Published: Sunday, October 27, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 27, 2013 16:10
Last Wednesday, 6,500 people packed Alumni Arena to listen to Hillary Clinton as part of UB’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
In a speech that lasted about 30 minutes, Clinton applauded the current track the City of Buffalo is taking and compared the city to what needs to happen in Washington, D.C. There has been media buzz about Clinton being the leading Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential election. The UB community gave their opinions on the implications of her speech, the possibility of her candidacy and her potential to be the first female president.
Her speech began by praising the hard work of Western New Yorkers and the investments both UB and the City of Buffalo have made for the future. Clinton specifically mentioned UB’s new downtown medical campus, which officially broke ground on Oct. 15, and the recent improvements on Buffalo’s waterfront.
Clinton said projects like the medical campus and the improvements of Buffalo’s waterfront are essential to the region’s future, and America should “make the same long-term investments as the ones that made America great.”
Vanessa Dwyer, a freshman undecided major, was pleasantly surprised to hear the former Secretary of State focus on Buffalo so exclusively. She expected the speech to be more “worldly and patriotic.”
Other students weren’t as impressed.
Nick Swartz, a freshman accounting major, found Clinton’s speech to be that “of a typical politician.”
He thought her answers to questions raised during the question-and-answer session of the program “circumvented” what she was being asked.
“She talked up the small, good things the City of Buffalo has improved on, and not all of the problems we still have to work on,” Swartz said.
The last question posed by the audience addressed Clinton’s anticipated run for the presidency in 2016. Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black, who hosted the Q&A session, admitted the number of people asking it did not surprise him.
Clinton didn’t reveal whether she is planning to run in 2016, but some UB students are excited about the possibility of a woman commanding the Oval Office in three years.
“I would love to see a woman in the White House soon,” said Eli Chestnut, a senior Spanish major, in an email. “I just don’t know if it will happen in the next election.”
Chestnut said, at this point, she is not sure if she would support Clinton in 2016. But if she does, the decision will not be solely because Clinton is female.
“Gender plays a huge role in the way some people vote, but I don’t think people should vote for her just because she is a woman, but because she is well qualified,” Chestnut said.
Before Clinton took the stage on Wednesday, students from UB’s College Democrats stood outside Alumni Arena handing out stickers and signs provided by the Ready for Hillary Super PAC, with which Clinton is not affiliated – an effort to energize people for the prospect of a 2016 presidential run.
Sean Kaczmarek, a sophomore economics and international studies major and vice president of College Democrats, believes Clinton’s eight years as first lady, eight years as a senator and four years as Secretary of State make her qualified for the presidential position.
Alana Barricks, a senior political science major and president of College Republicans, doesn’t agree with all of Clinton’s policies but believes she is a qualified candidate and acknowledged the role Clinton played in the increase of women in politics.
Barricks, who was not in attendance when Clinton gave her speech, added she doesn’t think Clinton is going to run because she hasn’t “expressed interest.” Still, if Clinton is the Democratic nomination, Barricks said she will not vote for her because of her policies.
“I will not vote for a woman just based on her gender,” Barricks said. “I will vote for a woman for sharing my political values and ideologies. I don’t doubt that Clinton would be a competent president who would do a lot for women all over the world, but I could never vote for her.”
When asked about the Obama campaign’s ability to draw the youth vote in 2008 and 2012, Kaczmarek was confident Clinton could do the same.
“In 2008, kids had a chance to make history by electing the first African American president, and they did,” Kaczmarek said. “If given the same opportunity, Hillary Clinton would be able to draw the same support from young voters and make history once again because our generation likes to make history.”
Clinton noted in her famous concession speech to Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary, “Although we were not able to shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it has 18 million cracks in it.”