Campaign rally draws overflow crowd at the Justice Center
October 2, 2012 – A crowd of 1,320 students, faculty, staff and members of the community filled UNC Asheville’s Justice Center for a Tuesday afternoon campaign rally with Vice President Joe Biden. The rally was staged by the Obama/Biden campaign and co-sponsored by two student groups, College Democrats and Students for Obama.
Three UNC Asheville students provided introductions from the stage, beginning with Student Government Association President Ben Judge, who noted, “This is the first time a sitting vice president has visited our campus, but hopefully, it’s not the last. UNC Asheville is pleased to offer a forum for the discourse of ideas.”
“For students especially, the stakes couldn’t be higher in this election,” said Caitlin Gibbs, leader of College Democrats. “We’ve got to make sure the team is right in this office, fighting so we have access to affordable health care, good jobs, and a great education, like the one we receive here at UNC Asheville.”
Gibbs shared the podium with James Whalen, president of Students for Obama, who stressed the importance of federal policy on student financial aid and loans. “I have so many friends who are here thanks to Pell grants and scholarships,” said Whalen. “We are fighting for real things that affect everyday people, every day, in major ways.”
Vice President Biden also stressed the importance of access to higher education in his remarks:
“America has to be the best educated nation in the world… My wife Jill [a community college professor] has an expression… ‘Any nation that out-educates will out-compete us,’ so I’d like to take a minute to talk about the fundamentally different points of view we have on education – the Romney/Ryan ticket and the Obama/Biden ticket…
It is in the national interest of the United States of America that we move from 14th in the world in the percent of people who graduate from college back to number one again… That’s why we work so incredibly hard to see that every qualified young woman and young man in America has access to college, no matter what neighborhood they live in. It’s not just about equity and fairness, it’s about security, it’s about America’s future… We can’t compete unless we are better educated.
We were paying [banks] $60 billion over ten years to process student loans – we said we’re going to stop that. Every Republican voted against it; we stopped it though, and we took that $60 billion and we increased the number of students in college on Pell grants from 6 million to 9 million.”
Vice President Biden also highlighted differences over economic and tax policies between the two parties, saying, to a massive roar from the crowd, “We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It ended in the catastrophe for the middle class and the great recession of 2008, and we are not going back!”
Some 200 people who were unable to fit in the Justice Center watched the rally via monitors in the Student Recreation Center. The Justice Center is the home court of UNC Asheville’s women’s volleyball team, which had to cancel its Tuesday practice. Vice President Biden visited and posed for photos with the team at the conclusion of the rally.