Campus Venues Fill to Brim as Students,
Faculty, Staff Gather to Witness Dawn of New Presidency
Ioana Patringenaru and Christine Clark | January 20, 2009
A standing-room only crowd applauded and a big cheer rose at the Great Hall at Eleanor Roosevelt College when Barack Obama took the oath of office Tuesday morning. Obama’s image filled TV screens at the Great Hall and at several other venues on campus, including The Loft at the Price Center East, which broadcast the presidential inauguration. Hundreds of students, staff and faculty turned out for the occasion. They said they had to come to watch history unfold and to witness the beginning of a new political era.
More than 400 members of the UCSD community turned out throughout campus to witness President Obama's inauguration Tuesday morning. From left: at Eleanor Roosevelt's Great Hall and at The Loft.
“For the first time since 9/11, we have come together around a symbol,” said Heidi Keller-Lapp, an academic coordinator for the Making of the Modern World program at ERC.
At The Loft, it was also a full house Tuesday morning as students, staff and reporters poured in to watch the inaugural ceremony. An estimated 250 students joined Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Penny Rue and others. The crowd cheered when TV announcers said Obama officially had become president of the United States at 9 a.m. But the room remained silent during a majority of the ceremony and inaugural address.
At the Great Hall, a crowd of about 150 often punctuated Obama’s inaugural speech with cheers and applause. Lines about fighting global warming went over particularly well. So did Obama’s pledge to fight terrorism without sacrificing America’s ideals and principles.
From left: Alumna Sara Kerosky and fifth-year student Ji-San Lee, a structural engineering major at Muir College.
“For the last eight years, we’ve been a nation afraid,” said Keller-Lapp, the academic coordinator. “Now it feels like we’re bigger than our fears.” Keller-Lapp had brought along her 12-year-old son, a seventh-grader. “I wanted him to remember where he was today,” she said. Earlier that morning, she had told her children that they would witness many inaugurations in their lifetimes, but this would be the one they would be asked about.
Several students said they felt a sense of ownership in the Obama presidency. “It just feels like our generation, we have so much more power than anyone anticipated,” said Leena Bhakta, a political science major at Thurgood Marshall College. The sophomore and several classmates said they were excited about Obama’s campaign. “I think that he’ll be the change that we definitely need,” Bhakta also said.
Sara Kerosky, a recent graduate who now works at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said Obama’s candidacy had ignited a patriotic streak in her. Kerosky volunteered for the campaign in her spare time. “I felt like someone finally got me,” she said.
Jeffrey Lane, a freshman, said he too volunteered for Obama’s campaign. “I feel like all the hard work paid off. It is incredible to see American voters take a leap of faith and elect someone so young who doesn’t look like any president we have ever had before.”
More than 250 people watched the inauguration at The Loft.
UCSD students, faculty, staff and administrators weren’t the only ones to turn out on campus Tuesday. Charlotte Irgens, a foreign exchange student from Norway who attends Alliant International University, also came here with her friends to watch the event. “We wanted to go somewhere where we could celebrate with others,” she said. “I’ve been following the election closely. I’m very happy at this moment; this has been a very emotional election for me.”
In addition, everyone could hear the inauguration in the grove near the Faculty Club, where the Stuart Collection’s “Trees” broadcast the event beginning at 8 a.m.
After the speech, students said they found Obama’s words inspiring. The new president has set high standards and has become a model, said Pouya Jamshidi, a fifth-year student who plans to become a doctor.
“The speech was very uplifting,” Jamshidi said. “It made me feel more responsible, not just for myself, but for the world around me.”