Obama to campaign on UM campus Friday; will focus on women’s issues

Barack Obama

Once more, the University of Miami will be the center stage in the world of politics. This Friday, Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, will campaign on the Coral Gables campus, presenting his “Women’s Rally for the Change We Need” speech, at the BankUnited Center.

The speech will emphasize issues that directly affect women, such as healthcare, economic advancement and abortion.

“He wants to connect with the voters, especially the women,” said Corey Ciorciari, a senior and a financial intern for the Obama Campaign. “We don’t want to lose everything that [Sen. Hillary] Clinton worked for.”

“I think [Obama] knows what he’s talking about,” said senior John Nahas. “He’s getting a lot of people interested in politics that otherwise wouldn’t care.”

Talks to secure the BankUnited Center as the location for the event began Sunday, when the university was informed by the Obama Campaign that the senator was coming to South Florida, according to Rudy Fernandez, vice president for Government Affairs, who helped coordinate the event. Negotiations to host the event were finalized on Tuesday morning, he added.

“President [Donna E.] Shalala is big on exposing the student body to diverse events that make people think about the election,” Fernandez said.

An e-mail informing the UM community of Sen. Obama’s visit was sent out to the university community and Obama supporters on Tuesday afternoon. The event will be free and the tickets, which were available through Obama’s campaign website, were sold out by Tuesday evening. Around 3,500 tickets were made available through the Web site.

To prepare for the rally, the University of Miami Young Democrats distributed tickets in the UC Breezeway throughout Wednesday. On Friday, they will partner with Get Out the Vote and UM for Equality and set up a voter’s registration table at 7 a.m.

The UM College Republicans could not be reached for comment.

“We need to be more politically aware of what’s going on in the country,” said junior Kristina Rosales, president of Get Out the Vote, an organization that helps register and provide voting information to students. “It’s very important for people to know what issues are being debated.”

In order to gain entrance to the event, students must present their e-ticket and their Cane Card. According to the university’s Ibis News, students in attendance will be provided with a voucher for a free snack box if they present their Cane Card. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m., and the program will begin at 11:45 a.m. Students are encouraged to arrive early since the event is free to the public and there is no priority seating for students. Seats will be assigned on a first come, first served basis, and possession of an e-ticket doesn’t guarantee a space inside the BankUnited Center.

Bags, backpacks, signs, banners, video and audio recorders and cameras will not be allowed inside the BankUnited Center for security reasons. For a complete list of items prohibited in the BankUnited Center, visit www.bankunitedcenter.com.