Excitement Surrounds Obama's Inauguration

Photo: People gather around the United States Capitol as it is being prepared for Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.
Will Kane/Photo
People gather around the United States Capitol as it is being prepared for Barack Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

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Excitement Surrounds Obama’s Inauguration
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On campus and in the capital, UC Berkeley students are joining the rest of the nation this morning in commemorating the historic inauguration of Barack Obama.

Feelings of patriotism and excitement were running high among students the day before the event, said Joel Clark, director of the UC Berkeley Washington Program, which hosts almost 30 student interns in Washington, D.C. All of the students in the program will be present at the ceremony in some way, Clark said.

"The students have just soaked it up," he said. "Even the more conservative students who would have favored McCain, they're caught up in it too. It's just a once-in-a-lifetime moment."

Katerina Robinson, who is in the program and received a ticket to the event from her congressman, said she was thrilled to take part, although she will be standing far from the actual ceremony.

"It just marks a big turning point in history, and everyone in the entire country wants to be here right now," she said. "And it's a big deal that a few Berkeley kids can be among the millions of Americans who have come to D.C. to participate in the inauguration."

Back in Berkeley, the campus has also been gearing up to host a public screening of the inauguration on Upper Sproul Plaza.

ASUC President Roxanne Winston, who is greeting the campus at the screening, said she expects the event to bring together students, staff and faculty in support of new leadership.

Following a contentious presidential campaign, Republican candidate John McCain urged the nation to put aside its differences and unite behind the new president. Former President George Bush echoed these sentiments last week in his farewell speech, saying the inauguration represented "a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation."

Now, as Obama ascends to the presidency, campus clubs are making an effort to back their new president despite ideological differences.

"Everyone is sort of, after the loss, trying to make peace with themselves," said Jiesi Zhao, president of the Berkeley College Republicans. "But I think the general sentiment is that now that he's our president, we want to support him, we want him to succeed, we love our country ... We want him to be the best president ever."

Morgan Wallace, external affairs vice president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, said he believed Obama had the ability to live up to the high expectations of UC Berkeley students as well as other young Americans.

"I think the campus is more or less unified (behind Obama)," Wallace said. "More than ever, this president has shown that he can give a message to young people that he can represent change."

Obama garnered 66 percent of the youth vote in the November election, twice as many votes as his Republican competitor.

Ariel Boone, the club's internal affairs vice president, who is attending the event in D.C., said the inauguration would be a milestone but should not mark the end of the youth participation witnessed during the election.

"I think that the Berkeley community is happy that finally it feels like the younger generation turned out, voted, and were listened to," Boone said. "But that being said, I think what Obama supporters across the nation are realizing is that when Obama calls for more participation, what he also means is holding himself accountable."


Rachel Gross is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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