Supporters wait in line for Bernie Sanders’ UB rally early

Supporters begin lining up outside Alumni Arena as early as 8 a.m.


Bernie Sanders supporters began lining up outside Alumni Arena as early as 8 a.m. Monday – about eight hours before doors open and 11 hours before the Democratic presidential candidate will even speak at his “A Future To Believe In Rally.”

Brooke Kirisits, Dylan Batley and Kaleigh Ferguson, all of Niagara Falls and non UB students, were the first three people in line. They arrived outside Alumni Arena at 8 a.m. and were to their own surprise the first people to arrive.

“He’s drawing so many people all over the country,” Batley said. “We look at his other rallies and he’s got 10,000 people coming out, so we just wanted to be sure we could get in. We know it’s a smaller venue. We just wanted to take no chances.”

They’ve prepared themselves for the long wait with hand warmers and blue ponchos to brace the cold and snacks like apples and fruit bars to fight off any hunger. But their blue ponchos and position at the head of the line has caused most people to mistake them for event workers, they said.

That was the case for Dominic Lauricella, a sophomore media study major directly behind them who holds the distinction of being the first UB student in line for Sanders. He and his friend Ryan O’Hern, of Syracuse, even asked Kiristis, Batley and Ferguson questions about the rally before learning they were not workers.

Lauricella and O’Hern have been waiting in line since 9:30 a.m. after turning away from the long line for the Student Association’s priority tickets. The tickets allow students to bypass the general admission line, but noticing that SA may run out, Lauricella and O’Hern decided to be one of the first in the general admission line instead.

SA had to give out tickets nearly an hour early due to the growing line and would eventually give out all 500 tickets by 11 a.m.

Lauricella said he supports Sanders because of the Vermont senator’s relatability.

“When he says stuff, you’re not like, ‘OK, he’s saying that to cater to the Latino vote, the black vote.’ He’s saying that because he thinks that and he means that,” Lauricella said.

O’Hern said he’s supported Sanders with campaign donations as much as he’s financially able. He likes that Sanders is not “tied to anything on Wall Street” and has “no big donors.”

“I donated, I feel like I actually have a say in what he does,” O’Hern said.

The two aren’t worried about entertaining themselves because they “have technology” and “everyone is friendly.”

“Hopefully some Trump supports show up,” Lauricella said jokingly.

Lauricella said he is skipping a one-credit class to wait in line and guarantee a seat to see Sanders.

“I think it will be worth it,” he said.

Doors open at 4 p.m. and Sanders will speak at 7 p.m.

Tom Dinki is the editor in chief and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @tomdinki.