Why some NJ residents aren’t thrilled about Obama’s upcoming Rutgers visit
As Rutgers University continues to prepare for President Barack Obama's upcoming address at the 2016 commencement, concerns over ticket limitations and a general dislike by some for the commander-in-chief have many people in the Garden State less-than-enthusiastic about the event.
On May 15, Obama will deliver the commencement address to the Rutgers University class of 2016, which will be his final graduation speech as president. The state school is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year.
Rutgers announced that tickets for the commencement will be limited to one ticket per graduate plus three guests and one parking pass.
"Because of the unprecedented number of requests for seating we have received over the course of this registration period, we will be utilizing a ticketing system, which is a change from past years," Rutgers Interim Secretary Kimberlee Pastva said in a letter to all graduates.
In addition, for security reasons, the tickets will be barcoded and non-transferable and attendees will be required to have photo identification.
"While the limit to three guests at the stadium is a change from past practice, it ensures that every graduating student from Rutgers University-New Brunswick and from Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences is accommodated," Pastva's letter states.
The news about the new ticket limitations, and Obama's upcoming visit in general, did not sit well with some New Jerseyans who called the Dennis and Judi show on NJ 101.5 Wednesday.
Chase, a cellular biology and neuroscience major who is among the 2016 graduates, said his grandparents and his uncle - who was one of his greatest influences - will not be able to attend the commencement because of the ticket restrictions.
"My family that can't be there is really disappointed," Chase told Dennis and Judi.
Elka, a Linden resident, has a granddaughter who is also part of the Rutgers Class of 2016. She said after discussing it, the family has decided that the college senior will not walk in the graduation ceremony next month.
"We don't care for Obama," Elka told the hosts. "I don't feel like listening to anymore nonsense from him after eight years and I don't think he belongs there (at the commencement)."
The Linden woman said her family was concerned about the new ticket policy as well as issues such as parking and security. She said her family is planning to have dinner together to celebrate her granddaughter's graduation instead of attending the commencement.
"It's not his day, it's for the kids," Elka said. "This is all about Obama again."
Another caller, Dan from Washington Township, told Dennis and Judi that this year's commencement is little more than "an academic awards show."
"It's no different than the Academy Awards or those music shows. They just sit there, patting themselves on the back. It's not even about your kid, it's about academia," Dan said. "It's about them asking for money."
The university still has not released it's plans for security during the commencement. Officials from the U.S. Secret Service - which is heading up the security detail - could not immediately be reached for comment when contacted Wednesday.
In addition, plans for road closures throughout the area during the May 15 commencement also had not been released as of Wednesday.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.