By India Solomon
On the night of Monday, March 31, students grabbed their blankets, their buddies, and their books and pitched their tents outside of the Michigan Union. Tickets to hear President Obama speak about raising the minimum wage were not being distributed until 9 a.m. the next morning. We laughed, sang, and studied all through the dropping temperatures and fluctuating rain showers. But why, exactly, were we waiting?
Most of us love Obama because he’s radical and gorgeous, some of us are actually into politics, and many of us are being paid more than minimum wage. I imagine that most of us were simply there to hear what the President of the United States had to say.
In his Facebook post, hard-working Freshman Samuel Francey made a valid point for the relevance of Obama’s discourse to college students today. “In 1979, when the minimum wage was $2.90, a hard-working student with a minimum-wage job could earn enough in one day (8.44 hours) to pay for one academic credit hour… But today, it takes 60 hours of minimum-wage work to pay off a single credit hour, which was priced at $428.75 for the fall semester.”
However, the reality is, as the President mentioned, the average age for citizens earning minimum wage is 35. “Not everyone is lucky enough to attend The University of Michigan,” Obama said.
While the crowd chose to take this as yet another infamous “YEAHHHH, GO BLUEEEE” moment, what the President was really trying to get at is that the majority of us are privileged and that awareness is the first step. Save your pride for the football games, Wolverines. Higher education is a privilege that not many citizens have, and this lack of privilege cannot solely be attributed to their own life choices.
Finally released from the pressures of reelection, the President is now using his position to draw attention to the issues of privilege in this country that are often ignored and even further intensified by the prevailing agenda. By raising the minimum wage, President Obama seeks to reward responsible, working citizens with a better quality of life. Consequently, they may, as the President explained by alluding to the logic of Henry Ford, be able to purchase the product that they are helping produce.
We are not the primary target audience, but we are the voters. We have the power to call the shots, to reach out to our Congress members, and to make things happen.
So, shout out to the ladies in front of me who casually retired to their Instagrams after taking 20 minutes worth of selfies with the President of the United States. While you were scrolling, he was speaking to us about raising the minimum wage, emphasizing why it matters, and revealing how Congressional Republicans are poorly justifying their stance against raising the minimum wage.
I know it’s complicated, but come on, you’re Wolverines. Act like it…
What is your take on the Presidential Visit? Let us know in the comments.