Campus Memories

Campus Memories


Alone by Accident with the Vice President

It would become one of the biggest events in UNC’s recent history: the future vice president was coming to campus. The date was Oct. 21, 2008, just three weeks before the election in which Barack Obama and Joe Biden were favored to win.

As a reporter for the Greeley Tribune, I had written a story in advance on the precautions being taken to protect Biden.

The Secret Service wouldn’t say how many agents were assigned, but implied there would be many. They came to campus and checked the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion days before Biden was to appear. They said they even sealed manhole covers in the parking lot.

When I arrived, over 4,000 people were in the hall, already seated up front. Secret Service agents were outside the doors, checking backpacks, purses and any other suspicious items or persons.

I wanted a place near the front so I could see the candidate easily and also watch the crowd reactions. But no seats were available.

I wandered around to the outside of the seating, down a space between the seats and the walls. I found a door that obviously led to an area next to the speaker’s platform. I decided I could go into that room, see both Biden and the crowd, and not be in the way.

Nobody checked me at the door when I entered.

The large room was empty, except for one person. Standing in the center of the room, all alone, was Biden.

We looked at each other, smiled, and I said “Hello, sir!” and the future vice president said, “Hi,” and smiled. I said “Good luck with your speech,” and he answered “Thank you.”

A few seconds later, the applause started as Biden was introduced. He winked at me and smiled and walked onto the speaker’s platform.

For about 30 minutes I stood in the room alone and watched him speak. No one questioned me. On the platform were a couple of very serious men who had to be Secret Service agents. When he finished, they escorted him off the stage and back into the room.

At least they showed up to take him past me a second time.

— Mike Peters (BA-68) is a retired journalist in Greeley


Win a UNC Gift Bag

Prior to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign appearance in 2004, what other presidential campaigns visited Greeley and when? Correct answers will be entered into a drawing for a UNC backpack containing a variety of UNC-branded items — coffee mugs, pens, pennants and more. Send your answer by June 10 to

Congratulations to the winners of last issue’s trivia contest, whose names were randomly drawn from entries with the correct answer. Carol Ferebee, Greg Russell and Wafa Yacoub knew that George W. Frasier was the president of the university in 1927 when he was mistaken for a freshman and dunked in the campus reflecting pool in keeping with custom at the time.