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Jan 12 2016
by Bianca D'Agostino

3 Things Obama Said in the SOTU That College Students Should Care About

By Bianca D'Agostino - Jan 12 2016
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Barack Obama's two-term presidency is almost coming to a close, as Monday night marked his final State of the Union Address. To clarify, a SOTU is a message delivered by the current President of the US with an intent to deliver important information about things going on in our country and in our government today and in the future; this occurs every January the President is in office. Why should you care? Well, here is a list highlighting the top 3 things you as college students should make note of from this address. 

NOTE: You can read the entire transcript of his SOTU (don't worry it's not too too long) here

1.   "I want to Focus on the Future."

When Obama was running for office in 2008 and re-election in 2012, his slogans were "Change" and "Forward," so the future and its potential progress has always been a major theme in his legislation and other actions throughout his presidency. To discuss this change, he brings up four incredibly important questions:  

"First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us—especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?"

I feel that these statements are truly important for us as the future generation of workers, educators, and advocates to contemplate--economic and educational opportunity is something that is needed to unite our world. Secondly, we are the children of the technology era, so being able to connect our society in positive ways to its advantages is something that we can all contribute to through our educations and our future actions. Creating a peaceful environment for our world is something that we can think about on our college campuses as we are in such new diverse communities that deserve the respect and acknowledgement of each of the new cultures represented. And finally, I feel that one of the most important questions asked is his final one:  how do we make politics good again? How do we instill trust again? This is where we as college students come in. As new voters in a time of extreme political turmoil and change, we have the amazing opportunity to vote in an election that changes our leadership, the person who is going to instill such new change into our country hopefully for the better. Through our right to vote which we are so lucky to have, we can vote for a positive change to occur in our country. We can vote for a positive change in our future president, a positive change in our congress as well. Sometimes the congress gets passed by, but it really is important to pay attention to those candidates, as they help create, lobby (advocate for, promote), and pass legislation that can affect our world today. To answer his question of basically how to make politics our best, and not our "worst" can be answered simply--by making informed and well educated votes, we can make change. Change that is for the better. 

2. "We’ve made progress. But we need to make more."

This was an important statement made by the President as he began to highlight some of the major issues that he felt we as Americans needed to reform. One of the major key points he focused on was education. He made reference to how there was an update in the No Child Left Behind Act, otherwise currently known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (you can read about the differences between the two acts here--USA Today did an excellent job about breaking down each aspects in simple language without all that political jargon). But once again, he brought the main focus to the future--the thing that was most relevant to you as a college student. "...We have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college." The President makes note of how the rate of students loans has been reduced, but he is saying that the cost of education should not put students like ourselves in the "red," which is a nice accounting term for massive debt. There is talk of a plan to provide the first two years of a community college education free to ("responsible") students as an alternative way to making our high priced and valued educations cost less, for example. 

3. "Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy."

"2015 was unambiguously the hottest year on record." The same thing was said about 2014. Combating climate change and promoting the use of clean energy in our daily lives is something that was made note of in the SOTU. Obama stated that he will advocate for a new "way we manage our oil and coal resources" in an attempt to aid the planet and use our tax dollars more efficiently. Many colleges today are taking initiatives to move away from fossil fuels ("dirty energy") in an attempt to make a positive impact on our planet. For example, organizations such as gofossilfree.org is attempting to eliminate the use of fossil fuels (you can read why fossil fuels are bad here) throughout businesses and universities. Many colleges are "divesting" from these bad energy sources, meaning they opposite of investing, and turning to cleaner, alternative resources--you can see if your university is participating in this divestment movement here. Would you leave your dorm in a disgusting state of dirtiness while you live there? NO! So why would you leave your home planet in an unhealthy state? As college students in this incredibly important generation, we are the future. We as the future of this economy and planet should take each opportunity we can to help create a clean environment. Whether or not you believe that humans had a direct affect on climate change, we still need to take care of our planet.

Lead Image Credit: Slate


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Bianca D'Agostino - University of Connecticut

Bianca is a freshman at the University of Connecticut majoring in business and minoring in communications and international business. She political articles and loves to be involved on her campus. Bianca loves to read, run, knit and craft. You can follow her on Instagram @biancadag!

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