Social media played a major role in dispersing President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, and psychology senior and Undergraduate Student Government Senator Jordan Hibbs played a large role in getting the president’s message out into the Twitterverse.
This was the second year Hibbs was invited to the White House to participate in the social media event during the address.
“Last year, I saw it on Facebook and the White House posted they were looking for people who were active on social media and wanted to come out to the White House for the State of the Union,” she said. “This year I saw it on Twitter and reapplied and got accepted.”
Hibbs was one of the 66 people chosen to watch an enhanced version of the address.
“It was basically the same thing people saw at home, but with graphics on the side displaying small facts,” she said.
After the address, the event’s participants were allowed to meet with senior White House policy advisers and ask them questions.
“Specifically I spoke to one adviser on education and with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest,” Hibbs said. “We talked about getting pre-K funding and access to higher education for minorities.”
Being in a room with like-minded people and participating with the State of the Union instead of just watching it was interesting, Hibbs said.
“It was really great being in a room full of people who are all interested in the same things you’re interested in, and are also active on social media,” she said. “What we were supposed to be doing was tweeting and Facebooking and Google Plus-ing everything that was going on both in the panel session and with the State of the Union.”
Overall, the State of the Union was good, but there was also some disappointment, Hibbs said.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the Congress, in its current state, is unable to do the things the president is wanting to do, because I think a lot of the initiatives are smart and should be done,” she said. “But to have to bypass Congress to get simple things done is not very… well, it kind of sucks.”
Hibbs said it is unfortunate that Obama has to take executive action on certain topics, like creating jobs.
“I just think that if Congress was really doing its job and working together to get some of these basic bills passed, the president wouldn’t have to do that,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it has come to him having to take executive action. I think it needs to be done and personally support what he wants to do.”
History senior Carlos Alfaro, vice president of the ASU College Republicans, said he doesn’t agree with Hibbs on the impact and direction of the speech.
“I think Obama made a lot of promises that he can’t keep,” he said. “There was no mention of the NSA, and the speech overall was a great example of what his presidency is all about, dictating to everyone.”
Promises aren’t going to get anything done, Alfaro said.
“It is so easy to promise these things, but it is very hard for them to get done,” he said.
Brian Garcia, president of the ASU chapter of the Human Rights Organization, said he liked the majority of the speech and especially the connection to Arizona.
“I really liked how he highlighted some of the people in Arizona and highlighted employment, but there is still more to be addressed,” he said. “I also liked how he connected us with efforts going on around the country.”
One of the biggest things Hibbs said she learned during the social media event was how important transparency is to the people, she said.
“You really see how important it is to integrate social media and be transparent,” she said. “It was really interesting to see social media as part of the political process.”
Hibbs said she hopes more people in the USG will get into social media and keep students up to date.
“I do it here in the Senate,” she said. “I’m always tweeting about stuff, and I think more people need to do that, because it is such an easy and quick way for people to get the information they need and deserve.”
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