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College Democrats Face Sea of Paul Ryan Fans

By Mike Valerio, Reporter
Published On: Sep 03 2012 11:07:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 03 2012 11:21:18 PM CDT
GREENVILLE -

Eleven East Carolina University students stood their ground on the issues Monday, supporting President Obama during Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan's visit to Greenville.

The small group of ECU College Democrats stood silently with protest signs in tow, as an estimated three thousand people passed by to see Paul Ryan speak.

"We're here to be civil and discuss the issues," said Cory Noe, vice president of the ECU College Democrats. "There are things that give us cause for concern if Paul Ryan makes it to the White House."

Members of the group stood for nearly five hours, and said the candidate could make it difficult for students across the country to afford a higher education at institutions like ECU.

"[Ryan] voted to double the interest rates for student loans, which I have to take in order to pay for college," Noe said. "Without those loans, it would be incredibly tough to pay once we get out of school."

Congressman Ryan proposed the rate hike as part of his sweeping plan to balance the federal budget and slash $15 trillion in the nation's debt. Other students said they disagreed with Ryan's no-vote on a 2009 law promoting equal pay for men and women.

"I don't understand why he would vote against that," said ECU College Democrats member Amanda Holland. "I don't understand why equal pay for equal work wouldn't be a priority for anybody in this country."

Critics of the law, known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, say the legislation does little to ensure equal pay. Instead, it extends the statute of limitations to file unequal pay lawsuits.

What began as a civil demonstration had moments of tension between Ryan supporters and the college democrats.

Several people waiting to hear Paul Ryan chided reporters for covering the ECU College Democrats, shouting that Romney's running mate was the only story from the event.

"We have something to say here as well," said a student protester. "Our voices are just as important, even if we're not a political celebrity."

The mood eased when a Republican supporter joined the demonstrators, and one of the students gave the man a high-five.

"I always think its great when a candidate of his stature wants to come, whether I agree with him or not," Holland said. "I hope this event will get people fired up and ready to go."