University of Connecticut students react with excitement, hesitation to Biden’s visit

Students supporting UConn Unchain’s student sit in hold up signs in protest of President Joe Biden outside of the UConn Recreation Center on Friday Oct. 15 as he arrived on campus and gave a speech at the Dodd Research Center. President Biden came to the UConn campus to speak at the renaming of the Dodd Research Center, home to the UConn Human Rights Institute. Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

University of Connecticut students had conflicting reactions to President Joe Biden’s visit to the Storrs campus last Friday. While some students were in support of the event, others felt the nature of the President’s visit to be hypocritical.  

Natalie Goncalves, a third-semester human rights major, was able to attend the speech in-person. According to her, it would be an “understatement” to call his speech inspirational.  

“It was a great opportunity for UConn as the students got to see first hand how powerful and significant human rights and activism are,” Goncalves said.  

Other students like Lucas Politycki, a seventh-semester business major and exchange student from Germany, found the president’s visit to be less exciting.  

“Me, a German, I found it quite fascinating, but at the same time, a bit over the top,” Poliycki said. “What does Biden’s visit cost the American taxpayer?”  

Addy Horgan, a third-semester political science major, also felt unsure about the authenticity of the President’s visit.  

“It seemed performative on behalf of both UConn and the president himself and sort of like the school wanted the attention of having the president,” Horgan said. “It was a big deal for UConn, but what did he really do to deserve a place to speak about human rights?”  

Horgan’s sentiment was similar to those of the student human rights groups, UNCHAIN and the UConn collaborative organization, who jointly held a sit-in protest to condemn Biden’s visit to UConn.  

“I think it’s good that these folks expressed criticism and don’t always say ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ to everything,” Politycki said. “And Biden definitely doesn’t have a clean slate.”  

Though Goncalves was more supportive of the president’s visit, she agreed the protests were a positive undertaking. 

“I think the protests were extremely important as they were a direct example of what democracy stands for — a way for the voices of students to be heard,” Goncalves said. “A way of holding our politicians accountable.” 

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