Even before the doors opened for students to find a seat to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak at Syracuse University Monday morning, a line began to form. Over the next couple of hours, it kept growing as a sturdy column of students, faculty, and community members stretched through campus in the cold rain.
SU Senior Zach Schleien says he arrived at 8:30 am. "We were actually at the very end of the line, but we waited it out. It's really long, let's say two and a half football fields," he said.
His friend corrected him. "It's half a kilometer!"
At ten, about two hours before the Secretary arrived, security personnel began funneling the crowd of more than a thousand through a row of metal detectors.
Syracuse resident Mary Lou Balcom says she wrote Clinton's name on the ballot in 2008.
"I don't really agree right now, with a lot of things that are going on. I would just as soon see us out of Iraq and Iran," Balcom said. "But I really think she's very diplomatic. I think she's doing her best to solve a lot of conflicts."
Some people who waited didn't even make it inside, when SU's Hendricks Chapel reached its maximum seating capacity of 1,100 people. But there was one lucky person who escaped the colossal line, quite by accident.
"You know, I parked the car... I saw a back door, and I walked in!" said Clay resident Ed Stronsky. He guesses that his baseball hat that says "News Junkie" made security personnel think he was a reporter.
For an hour, Clinton discussed policy and the difficulty of foreign diplomacy with her former deputy secretary James Steinberg, now Dean of SU's Maxwell School.
Grad student Laura Alexander said the event reinforced her decision to take the first part of the Foreign Service exam in June.
"I'm very interested in the development side of diplomacy," she said. "Being able to affect the lives of others in a positive way... not even to affect them, to enable them to affect their own lives in a positive way."
Alexander will be able to take her first step this summer as an intern for the State Department.