Obama Commencement Speech Means Heat, Long Lines for Arizona State University Graduates

Arizona State University graduates are bracing for long hours and hot temperatures in anticipation of President Barack Obama's 2009 commencement speech that is expected to draw more than 63,000 people Wednesday.

Due to size of the crowd expected for the president's appearance, graduation will be held outside at Sun Devil Stadium instead of inside at Wells Fargo Arena. Not only are graduates being told to arrive up to four hours before the ceremony, but the National Weather Service forecasts Tempe's high to be 101 degrees Wednesday.

While many of the 9,000 students graduating are honored that Obama will be delivering the commencement speech, others are bothered that they will have to wait in long lines and scorching heat to receive their diplomas.

"It's going to be extremely hot out there," said one graduate. "They (students) are all going to be ready to graduate and get it over with."

Another ASU student offered a more enthusiastic outlook.

 "I definitely think that it's worth it," she said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity in order to see our current president speak."

ASU student Emily Graham had a different perspective.

"Some students are really excited and they don't care about the heat; they are just excited to see Obama speak," she said. "Personally, I don't care that he is the sitting president. For me, I wish it would have just been an easy half-hour line and you wouldn't have to wait five hours."

While the expected conditions are not ideal, Arizona State has taken a number of steps to ensure that graduates and guests will have comfortable conditions. The administration will open concession stands and provide complimentary water stations inside and outside Sun Devil Stadium. "Cool zones, a fan connected to a misting system, will be set up near the ceremony. Officials will also give away free fans to graduates and guests in attendance.

Jason Parks  is Palestra.net student reporter at Arizona State.