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Jan 10 2017
by Anna DiGiacomo

College Students React to President Obama's Legacy

By Anna DiGiacomo - Jan 10 2017

President Obama’s term ushered in a new era for America. Since inheriting an economic recession to the unrest in the Middle East and far more in-between, some regard this president as a hero. Contrarily, others are more than willing to offer their criticism of this particular administration. However, despite all differing opinions, there’s no changing the fact that Obama’s term is nearly up. As January 20th quickly creeps in, it’s promptly nearing time to say goodbye to this president. Naturally, the question arises — what will we remember of President Obama? As always, Fresh U sought to explore this question and collected the responses of various college students.

In regards to Obama's legacy, UNC Chapel Hill freshman Tarik J. Woods believes President Obama had much to offer the American people and that the president will be remembered accordingly. As Tarik explains, one only needs to look at some of Obama's greatest achievements to understand the impact this president had — such as cutting deficit spending and covering more than 25 million people with Obamacare. However, more than policy, Tarik states that Obama had a unique attitude and only ever sought to do his best for the American people. Whether it was through his stimulus package or increasing military spending to 700 billion a year, Tarik describes President Obama as an inspiration.

"Obama's accomplishments would take too long to list, but his dedication to working class families, minorities, the LGBT community, women, immigrants, and so many others has made our country stronger. I am so proud of everything he has done, and will miss him dearly."

Additionally, another Chapel Hill freshman, Maya Kapoor, also had nothing but praise for Obama’s presidency. This, she explains, is due to the personal impact the administration had on her family. Prior to Obama, Maya's mother was unable to afford regular insurance due to pre-existing conditions driving up the cost. However, Maya says this changed when the president implemented Obamacare, allowing her mother to finally enroll in regular insurance. However, soon after, Maya’s mother experienced a life-threatening emergency which placed her in the hospital for 18 days. This, coupled with the costs of seeing an array of specialists, would have devastated her family financially, Maya says. However, due to Obamacare, Maya's mother was able to afford the care she desperately needed.

"Not only has Obamacare quite literally saved my mother's life, but also she has been able to get treatment for conditions that she couldn't afford to look after before."

Similarly, New York University sophomore Hannah Claire shares how Obama’s presidency also affected her family. With a mother in banking, Hannah explains that she had first-hand experience regarding the positive effect Obama’s policies had at her mother's work.

"Risk management procedures and policies [Obama's] administration put into place after the crash have really helped keeping big commercial banks in check with how they mitigate and prepare for risks, which in turn protects consumers. Not glamourous but these things are so important!"

Next, in a slightly more critical review, University of Chicago freshman Ian Phillips explains that President Obama came with various shortcomings. Yet, despite these issues, Ian states that Obama managed to display an unprecedented dedication to the country’s welfare. From showcasing his wholesome family to postulating questions regarding the compassion — or lack thereof — Americans hold for one another to even appointing Supreme Court justices designed to balance the Court, Ian believes that Obama has fostered a culture of decency for America.

"[Obama] displayed a dedication to the future of our nation that is hard to come by in our current political atmosphere. I believe his legacy will reflect that."

However, in stark contrast to the previous students, Appalachian State freshman Don Buchanan had a much more censuring evaluation of President Obama. In regards to the president's lasting impact, Don immediately stated the doubling of the national debt as a devastating issue that must be corrected in the soon future. Additionally, Don believes that Obamacare was nothing short of a disaster. Despite promising to cover around 30 million people who didn’t have coverage, Don explains that Obamacare actually barely managed to cover a fraction of that magic number. Even then, Don states that it was at the states' expense, which ultimately lead to bankruptcy or economic turmoil. In short, Don feels that Obama let things slide — too quick to make promises he couldn’t keep in office. However, despite all these critiques, Don is still willing to acknowledge a few of Obama’s achievements.

"He did order for the killing of Bin Laden, and he did pull most of the troops out of the Middle East. President Obama has done some good things for the country."

Last, the most critical of the student panel, UNC Chapel Hill junior Farhan Khan states that Obama had one key failing in his presidency: the inability to project safety and security to his citizens. Farhan demonstrates this failure by explaining the fear he feels in knowing that it is now acceptable to kill U.S. citizens “without a fair trial.” Also, Farhan laments that figures such as Edward Snowden are prosecuted and condemned for treason when they should instead be lauded as “national heroes." Finally, Farhan expresses his anger at the president's lack of concern in Muslim and Native American affairs. Farhan states that Obama’s long silence on DAPL and inaction in bettering healthcare, law enforcement and rehab on native reservations demonstrates the president’s lack of devotion to the issues. Although the president may be "a nice guy," Farhan states that these issues are too unforgivable in a presidency.

"Decency is irrelevant to me if you are a warmonger and commit crimes against humanity. That's his legacy. He is probably better than what Trump will ever be, but that isn't saying much."

All in all, whether politics dictate you a supporter or opponent, Obama’s legacy will endure far beyond his presidency. However, with the departure of this president, another must be welcomed into the Oval Office. As we all soon look to President Trump for leadership, one can only guess at what he will do upon obtaining the metaphorical torch. Whether he will prove advantageous or detrimental to this country, only time will tell. Yet, as we look to the future, let us not forget the wise words our current president once imparted:

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America."

Lead Image Credit: Stephen Poff via Flickr Creative Commons

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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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