Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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College Dems celebrate State of the Union address

The State of the Union speech became part pizza party, part trivia game and part political lesson for some Northwestern students Monday night.

About 20 members of College Democrats gathered, in what has become an annual event, to watch and react to the address.

“It’s a little bit of a celebration for us since it is President Bush’s last State of the Union,” said Lily Becker, the vice president of administration for the College Democrats and a Weinberg junior.

Audience members were encouraged to speak their minds during the speech. When President Bush announced he would reduce congressional earmarks and eliminate several programs that are ineffective and wasting money, one onlooker shouted out, “Iraq not included!”

The group also kept tabs on how many times Bush said certain words throughout his speech, including “freedom” and “surge.”

At the start, spectators guessed which word would be used the most, and the winner received a free College Democrats T-shirt. “Terror,” and derivatives “terrorist” and “terrorism” won easily with 23 mentions – surpassing, among others, “freedom,” “liberty” and “earmarks.”

College Democrats President Ryan Erickson said the atmosphere was enjoyable with the word count and pizza.

“It’s light, generally just to get people together and have people mock the current administration, if that’s what their inclination is,” said Erickson, a Weinberg junior.

Erickson said the speech is an important way of getting information, though he said he found this year’s to be rather plain.

“I thought it was pretty ho-hum, no commitments, big commitments,” Erickson said. “There were some things he implored Congress to do, but he actually spoke relatively little about anything definitive in terms of what the administration’s plans in the coming year are really going to be. … I think it’s probably that he’s got too much on his plate already.”

Weinberg freshman Samantha Reed said she agreed with most of the people in the room that Bush’s speech was average.

“It wasn’t horrible,” Reed said. “But it wasn’t really inspiring.”

Reed said she joined the College Democrats partly because she wanted to become more educated about politics in general. She said she didn’t agree with a lot of what Bush said.

“For example, he said that they have a common purpose in improving health care, and yet he vetoed two different health care bills for children,” Reed said. “There were parts that made me angry at him.”

Jeffrey Chen, a Weinberg senior, said he thought the event was fun and a way to get news about something other than the Democratic primaries, which have dominated the political news cycle and the College Democrats’ recent meetings.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s also a good way to keep up to date with what’s going on.”

Chen also said he was surprised at the tone of the president’s speech.

“I was a little surprised it wasn’t as divisive or aggressive as previous speeches,” he said.

Along with Bush’s speech, Erickson thought that the Democratic response, given by Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, was also “nice.”

“Democrats still understand that … George Bush is still the president of the United States and with that comes an enormous amount of power and call to respect and prestige,” he said.

Reach Phillip Swarts at [email protected]

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College Dems celebrate State of the Union address