The Jacobs Center
About 200 students, staff, faculty and others piled in to the Levy Atrium at the Jacobs Center to watch President Obama’s speech Thursday. Attendees filled every chair, forcing others to watch from the staircase leading to the atrium and the balcony above.
Viewers ranging from undergraduates to custodial workers to staff of the Kellogg School of Management were captivated by the speech, laughing and applauding at various quips and references to Northwestern research.
“It was nice to hear an articulation of the progress that’s been made over the last six years, as well as hearing about his vision for the future,” said Francis McManus, a first-year graduate student at Kellogg.
Other students enjoyed Obama’s casual tone, as well as his acknowledgment that more work needs to be done to continue rebuilding the economy.
“I really liked the structure,” said Aditi Wagh, a graduate student at Kellogg. “The metaphor of setting new foundations was really interesting.”
Students, like second-year Kellogg student Adam Tollefson, also approved of Obama’s choice to deliver the speech in front of a graduate business school. The location was appropriate given the speech’s emphasis on the American economy and the growth of the middle class.
“It was good to hear a government leader openly want to partner with business leaders,” Tollefson said.
If you didn’t take a snapchat at Norris during Obama’s speech earlier today, did you actually go watch it? Undergrads filled the McCormick Auditorium in Norris to see President Obama’s speech.
With Obama’s words “Go Cats!” the auditorium burst out into cheer, and with every mention of Northwestern, Kellogg, or even higher education, the room filled with additional applause.
Students were clearly excited, even though they couldn’t see the President in person, and they showed their support not just for Obama, but also for Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. After the speech, the Norris audience offered a standing ovation and enthusiastic shouts of “USA!”
Medill senior Alex Nitkin commended Obama for his presentation, even though he has personally been critical of his policies in the past.
“It was a very powerful speech... not at all what I was expecting,” Nitkin said.
Most Northwestern undergraduates seemed to mirror that reaction. Among those who were especially ecstatic and impressed was Weinberg junior Kevin Cheng, political director of College Democrats at Northwestern.
“The facts are with the Democrats,” Cheng said. “The facts are with the President.”
The McCormick Tribune Center
The McCormick Tribune Center again proved itself to be a second home for students in the Medill School of Journalism Thursday during President Obama’s speech. Many of the more than 100 attendees had at least some connection to the world of journalism, and many were playing roles more than just audience members.
Keyboard clacking came from three Medill sophomores in the front row, working on a class assignment on the speech. A Medill graduate student took copious notes by hand, his phone recording the president’s words.
The MTC forum slowly filled up to its limit as the speech progressed, leaving some only standing room and some to watch the speech out in the lobby.
Overall, reactions were more subdued than in Cahn, where Obama spoke. The President got a few laughs out of his antics and wit, but the biggest hit by far was his quip, “It’s stupid,” referring to the gender wage gap in America.
Despite the relative lack of energy in the MTC forum, the audience listened closely. But not everyone supported Obama's message, and critics of White House policy could be found in the forum as well as on Sheridan Avenue.
“He’s a very good speaker, but I don’t necessarily agree with his politics,” Weinberg freshman Melissa Baroff said. “The part when he was like ‘women should get equal pay because it’s good for their husband’ was a little dicey.”
On the whole, though, the MTC audience certainly appreciated the leader of the free world in their backyard.
“He spoke to the challenges of being disliked and countered," said Sarah Fodor, senior director of foundation relations in the Office of Alumni Relations and Development. "But he did bring some of the relaxed, 'I’m back home' demeanor to this.'"