State of the Union not a priority for students

By and
Thursday, February 3, 2005

President Bush delivered his fourth State of the Union address Wednesday night, but Brown University wasn’t watching.

At the Gate and Jo’s, the televisions were turned to ESPN’s coverage of the Wake Forest-Duke men’s basketball game. In a Mead House lounge in Keeney Quad, only one first-year sat watching the speech as Meiklejohns met in the space around him.

Many students said they weren’t aware of the speech, and others didn’t care.

“I didn’t know about the speech,” said José Ramirez ’06 as he watched the basketball game at the Gate. “I’m not interested, honestly.”

“I get frustrated when I watch Bush speak, and there’s not a lot that I can do about it right now, so why get angry?” said Lena Groeger ’08, who was also at the Gate.

Several students said they tuned into ABC to watch “Alias” at 9 p.m., but turned off their televisions when they saw the President’s annual address to Congress was being carried instead.

A few people in Andrews Hall, however, did watch the speech. Four first-years gathered in a room to watch the address, treating it as a source of entertainment. They bet on the number of times Congress would applaud him – 66 times, according to their count – and mocked Bush throughout the speech.

“Bush makes me giggle,” Aaron Mandle ’08 said.

At least one student in the room, however, listened to Bush’s words.

“I thought Bush was trying to restore trust in the American people that he didn’t have in his first term,” Eytan Kurshan ’08 said. “I was thinking, if he wants to cut his budget and have all his great programs, how is he going to do that? He was a little bit too idealistic for my likes.”

In a change from earlier years, the Brown Republicans and Democrats did not hold public viewings of the president’s speech. Seth Magaziner ’06, president of the Brown Democrats, said there was little interest because the speech came so soon after Bush’s second Inaugural Address and the beginning of the semester.

But, he said, the Dems made sure their general body meeting ended early so anyone who wanted to watch the speech could.

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