Cal students want Obama to deliver 2015 commencement speech

March 17, 2014 7:59:32 PM PDT
Some Cal students are hatching a plan to get President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement speech in 2015 and ABC7 News found out there's a lot of support for this idea.

There's a lot of excitement and hard work ahead before 2015. Only eight U.S. presidents have ever visited UC Berkeley and only one of them delivered a commencement speech.

Where does one begin to convince the president of the United States to address Cal's graduating class of 2015? At UC Berkeley, you have to first sell it to the student senate. Just last week, its 20 members voted unanimously to support the plan. That, in turn got the attention of the Daily Californian -- Cal's student newspaper.

"As of now, it's no longer can it happen? It's more a question of how," said Elias Saigali.

Saigali is the student behind the plan. His organization is called "Students For Change" and he'll ask the president to focus on his commitment to public education.

"What we are doing is drafting a formal invitation with the help of the senate, as well as other organizations including my own and the chancellor's office," said Saigali.

Another influential person behind the plan is professor Christopher Edley Jr., the former dean of the UC Berkeley School Of Law. He also taught Obama at Harvard Law School.

"He can underscore UC as a success model while talking about the need to preserve it for decades to come," said Edley.

Students are weighing in on the possible visit.

"It would give a good opportunity for students to see how much UC Berkeley is involved in politics," said Katlyn Perugini, a Cal student.

If president Obama says yes to Cal, students say expect controversy.

"A lot of Republicans think Berkeley is too liberal and Democrats also think it's too liberal and pretty much any major politician will have some protests if they come to Berkeley," Caitlin Quinn, an ASUC senator.

A response from the White House will come sometime in 2015.


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