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President Obama set to discuss energy at Ohio State

Cody Cousino / Lantern photographer

As Ohio State students travel off campus to enjoy their Spring Break, President Barack Obama will travel to OSU Thursday as his last stop in his tour about energy.

OSU is Obama’s next stop after visits to Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma to discuss his “All the Above” energy strategy, oil and gas development and fuel economy, according to a White House press release.

Obama will tour OSU’s advanced-energy related research and development facilities and then speak in the RPAC, White House officials said.

Attendees can enter through the main entrance of the RPAC.  Doors open at 2:15 pm and the event starts at 4:30 pm.

“This is just such an honor to see and hear a sitting President of the United States and it is a really great showcase for Ohio State, student life, and rec sports, and we’re really excited about this,” said Don Stenta, director of recreational sports for the Office of Student Life.

Obama visited OSU’s campus for a rally in 2010 and spoke to students on the Oval about his movement of change. About 35,000 students filled the Oval to hear the President speak in his previous visit.

Obama’s Thursday visit is a free event for students and the public hosted by the White House staff. Anyone who plans to attend the event must have a ticket.

“We’re really fortunate to have a new facility, one that provides ample opportunity for flexibility,” Stenta said.

Despite students’ absence on campus during spring break, about 800 students lined up Wednesday inside the Ohio Union and extended outside onto High Street to get a ticket for the president’s visit. OSU students were able to get two tickets per BuckID.

Kaila Walker, a second-year graduate student in business administration, and Ebony Hodges, a first-year graduate student in business administration, arrived at 6:45 a.m. and were first in line to claim a ticket.

“This is my first opportunity to really see President Obama, so that’s why I’m here. I’m really excited,” Hodges said. “I have family members who have been to see him and waited in line for three or four hours as well. I am just ready to hear him and see him and learn to see what he has to offer.”

Walker said she was at OSU during his 2010 visit, but was unable to attend. Walker will be attending Thursday’s event.

“He’s been here probably a couple of times within the last year, and I’ve always been busy with homework, or grad school things,” Walker said. “It is nice that he’s here, and we’re on Spring Break and I have time to go see him.”

The Union released tickets to students at noon, and by 12:50 p.m., tickets were sold out.  The Union released tickets set aside for the public community and faculty at 6 p.m. During the second distribution, faculty, community members, and students could only get one ticket per person.

Some students waited in the Union until 6 p.m. to try and get a ticket when distribution became open to the public. Sam Abrha, a third-year in finance, waited since 11:30 a.m. and was one of the first to receive his ticket during the second distribution.

“I was disappointed. I feel like they could have did a better job with estimation. Like instead of giving each student two, only giving each student one,” Abrha said.

Abrha said he is looking forward to seeing Obama tomorrow.

“It’s like a dream come true (to see Obama). I am not really going to see Obama for the content of his speech. I take a communication class and we talked about how he was one of the best rhetoric speakers, so I kind of want to see his charisma first hand.”

Few tickets were still available after the second release.

Dave Isaacs, communications and media relations manager for the Office of Student Life, said that this event was business as usual for the Union staff, and that ticket distribution went smoothly.

“The Union has so much experience in ticket give-aways with D-Tix and that sort of thing that this is not anything out of the ordinary for us,” Isaacs said. “We do have a lot of students lined up and a lot of students are very excited to see the president.”

The number of tickets released was not disclosed.

The event is a standing-only event. Student and attendees with tickets will be able to stand in the Tom W. Davis Special Events Gym, or also in the South Gym if the first gym is full, Isaacs said.

The RPAC will be closed all day Thursday for the President’s visit. The RPAC’s adjusted Spring Break hours will resume Friday, Stenta said.

Mbabazi Kariisa, a fourth-year doctoral student in public health, started waiting in line around 10:15 a.m. and received a ticket. Kariisa said she wishes Obama would speak on a bigger platform, but is still excited to see him speak.

“I am looking forward to seeing him speak about energy,” Kariisa said. “I think I missed the opportunity last time he came to campus and this is a great time to see him, given it is a re-election year.”

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