Students troubled at event

As people stood in lines for hours to see President Barack Obama at the “Moving America Forward” rally on Friday, some said they were uphappy and inconvenienced by the event.

Check the box · Students from USC and other schools held up signs encouraging people to vote in the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 2. - Dan Doperalski | Daily Trojan

The rally, which featured Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, actor Jamie Foxx and band Ozomatli, brought 32,500 people to Alumni Park and 5,000 people who overflowed into McCarthy Quad.

Logistics, many said, were the main issue.

Volunteers working at the rally said they felt the event was disorganized and they would have appreciated more instruction from volunteer coordinators.

“I understand that it’s really tough to coordinate something that is so huge, [but] there were definitely parts that could have been improved,” said David Luo, a junior majoring in neuroscience who volunteered on Friday.

Luo also said he was one of many volunteers who were unable to control where people stood based on their ticket color — yellow, green or blue. Discrepancies over the tickets and what they signified caused major confusion among attendees Friday.

“The most unfair thing was the ticketing system,” Luo said. “After a while, there were just too many people rushing through and we couldn’t enforce anything.”

From the safety standpoint, officials said the event ran smoothly. The event required the Secret Service, the Department of Public Safety, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department to work together to ensure safety for the politicians and attendees, said DPS Capt. David Carlisle.

“That planning paid off for what ended up being a safe appearance by the president,” Carlisle said. “We didn’t have any major incidents, and I attribute that to all the planning. … It went extraordinarily well.”

Several people at the rally, however, were treated for minor incidents, such as dehydration and fainting, Carlisle said.

“We had multiple medical calls where we would have to respond EMTs. Most all of them were minor in nature,” said Carlisle, who also said these incidents are not surprising at an outdoor event where attendees are required to stand for many hours.

One attendee who drove from San Diego to see Obama said she noticed several people whom paramedics rolled out of the crowd on stretchers.

“There was a large crowd gathered on the balcony behind the pharmacy [on the steps,]” said Margaret Hokkanen, 50, a real estate agent. “After they cleared the balcony, people were taken one by one on stretchers.”

Hokkanen said she saw one person receiving oxygen while on the stretcher,

Students who did not attend the rally also said they felt inconvenienced by the entire event, making it difficult to get to class and walk through campus.

Lyn Stephenson, a first-year graduate student studying writing for screen and television, said she attended class at a nearby coffee shop because of the chaos on campus.

“As a commuter who takes the train, the shuttle unfortunately dropped me off near the growing lines in the morning. As I walked toward my class, I had to deal with crowds, the event organizers and news reporters,” Stephenson wrote in an e-mail.

Stephenson said the shuttles were running late and were crowded with non-USC students, which made her miss her train while trying to leave campus to go home.

“[The rally] should have been held at a different time. Even a few hours later would [have been] much more convenient, as the majority of classes would’ve been over,” Stephenson said. “If Obama is dedicated to our education, he shouldn’t have interrupted it.”

3 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Dear Mr. Obama:

    We appreciate your effort in coming to visit our campus and, while we were honored, we were also very upset by your callousness. Ms.Lyn Stephenson had to travel all the way from her 3 bedroom condo in the Marina, all set to attend her Basketweaving 101 class, only to find herself INCONVENIENCED by your presence and the crowds you attracted. We understand that you are the President of the United States, but what is more important here? You? Or Ms. Stephenson and the sniffling editors of the Daily Trojan? This poor student was forced to attend a makeshift class in a coffee shop! Did you hear me?I said, in a coffee shop. You might think this trivial, but it is something as terrifying as having to manage two wars and an economy on the precipice. She might have also been so rattled by the crowds you rallied, Ms. Stephenson might have tripped on her Jimmy Choos, chipped a nail, and scuffed her Vuitton bag. Please, Mr. Obama, show some respect for the plight of us students. Or have you no shame?

  2. Nathan
    Nathan says:

    Between this graduate student and the editors of the Daily Trojan in their previous editorial, the conception that an independent reader would form of the school’s student population is one of narcissism, shallowness, and unintelligence. I don’t like Obama; in fact, I despise his politics. But I still understand that he has a job to do. This job may conflict with students’ lives and inconvenience them. But really. Get over yourselves. You miss your train? Take the next one. The shuttle is too crowded? Wait for the next one, or if that is too difficult, take a taxi or a city bus. Sometimes life gets hard. Deal with it.

  3. Students troubled?
    Students troubled? says:

    I am a student and I was not troubled by this event in the least. USC sent plenty of emails reminding students of the increased traffic and class closures that would be happening due to President Obama’s visit. While my heart bleeds with sorrow for the plight of the screenwriting grad student, that student should have known exactly what was happening and planned transportation accordingly. Traffic was going to be bad, so plan on the possibility of getting home a bit later than usual.

    Also, this: “If Obama is dedicated to our education, he shouldn’t have interrupted it.” That is one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever heard. The President did not interrupt anything; the university did not cancel classes and gave ample warning about the increased traffic. If this grad student was troubled in any way by this event, the burden was on that student to make the day go smoothly, not the President or OFA, who had the full backing and support of USC’s administration to put on this event at exactly the time that they did.

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