University officials have confirmed that President Barack Obama will speak at USC, after rumors of his visit circulated around campus this week.
The president will give a speech open to the general public at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 at McCarthy Quad, said James Grant, assistant vice president of media relations.
Jason Duong, director of the USC Political Student Assembly — the group hosting the event — said he was contacted by university officials after Obama’s staff asked to come to USC.
“I was in disbelief when I got the call,” Duong said.
Though specifics of the event are still being worked out, Duong said, such as whether or not classes will be cancelled, PSA will be reaching out to several campus groups to help with organization.
His major focus now is to get as many students as possible to attend, regardless of their political inclinations.
“Whether they like him or not, this is definitely something that’s great for the university,” Duong said. “I’d encourage all students to come see what he has to say.”
Obama has spent significant time on the campaign trail recently, lobbying on behalf of incumbent Democrats who have found their re-election bids too close for party comfort.
One of those politicians includes California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who will also make an appearance on campus on Oct. 22.
The Democratic National Committee has rented space within the Ronald Tutor Campus Center to host a fundraiser for Boxer, a third-term incumbent who is locked in a tight race with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Obama is expected to campaign with Boxer while in Los Angeles.
Grant stressed the Boxer fundraiser was separate from the president’s rally and said that USC rented space out to the DNC as it would any other outside organization looking to use university facilities. The DNC is paying for the space, he said.
The Boxer campaign could not be reached for comment, but Patrick Bailey, associate dean and executive director of student life and involvement, said the campus center Grand Ballroom had been booked for the lunch-time event.
Though the president attended a fundraiser in Exposition Park last spring, next week marks the second time Obama has come to USC’s campus. The president spoke to students in October 2006 as a U.S. senator.
Obama will join the ranks of several prominent politicians who have come to USC either as president or a presidential hopeful, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The most recent sitting president to speak on campus was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Students said they are excited to have the opportunity to hear the president speak and hope he can motivate students to vote by talking about issues that matter to them.
“He’s faced a lot of voter apathy in our generation, and it’s very important for people to vote — whether they are Democrats or Republicans — and be involved politically,” said Mason Flink, a graduate student studying motion picture production. “If he can inspire students to get involved by coming to campus, it’s a good thing.”
Nelson Brooks, a junior majoring in business administration, said although he probably won’t attend the speech and doesn’t share the same political beliefs as Obama, he still thought the visit was important for the university.
“It’s definitely a privilege for our school to host him,” Brooks said. “Regardless of political party, he’s the president of the most powerful country in the world, and that is a huge honor for our school.”
“Having such a crucial figure not only for California but for the nation really is a testament to what we’ve been doing as a university and how our students are engaging the public,” he said. “I mean, if the president of the United States wants to come to our university, that’s a huge deal.”
Rachel Bracker contributed to this report.