Thousands Pack Sproul for Inauguration Party

Photo: A huge crowd waits on Upper Sproul Plaza to view the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Nick Fradkin/Staff
A huge crowd waits on Upper Sproul Plaza to view the inauguration of Barack Obama.

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Photo: Thousands gathered on Upper Sproul Plaza to watch a live feed of Barack Obama's inauguration.   

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As attendees from across the country packed into the National Mall yesterday to witness the presidential inauguration, more than 10,000 people filled the steps of Upper and Lower Sproul Plaza to join the campus's inauguration party, according to police estimates.

Despite the early hour and the cold weather, students, faculty, residents and local elementary school students came together to watch the ceremony on the large screen and to welcome the 44th president, Barack Obama.

Campus spokesperson Marie Felde said she was impressed by both the turnout and the attitude of the crowd.

"It was clearly one of the biggest crowds on Sproul Plaza that the campus has seen," Felde said. "It was a very good feeling out there, just so much positive energy, and people were so respectful of each other."

ASUC President Roxanne Winston and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau kicked off the event, calling Obama's inauguration a pivotal moment in America's history.

"We as a country decided we would not settle for mediocrity," Winston said. "We committed to having Barack Obama as president."

In an allusion to a speech by the famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Birgeneau said voters had chosen a president based not on the color of his skin, but on the content of his character.

Amid screams, Obama banners and political T-shirts, students seemed excited about the new president and the festivities of the inauguration party.

"It's not really about Barack Obama himself but the fact that everyone here can hope in a time like this," said freshman Lucas Zucker.

Once Joe Biden and Obama had sworn their oaths of office, Obama delivered his address to America and the world.

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America," Obama said. "For everywhere we look, there is work to be done."

In his speech, Obama laid out his political policies-addressing economic, defense, environmental and foreign relations issues. He stressed change in all sectors, promising economic recovery, peaceful diplomacy and sustainability.

"When he was talking about harnessing the earth's power and about renewable energy, that really got to me because I'm an environmental science major," said freshman Katya Cherukumilli.

While most students supported Obama on Sproul, others actually witnessed the excitement firsthand from the National Mall.

Kala Chapman, a junior and an intern with the Cal in the Capital program in D.C., said she and other students braved the cold to arrive at the National Mall by 4 a.m., ensuring a prime view of the once-in-a-lifetime event.

"You keep telling yourself, I'm witnessing history and I need to remember every bit of this," she said. "But then you just get caught up in the moment."

Although some students came toward the end of the Sproul inauguration party, nearly all had expectations for the new president.

"I hope he lives up to what he's been saying all along," said senior Minh-chau Do. "People have just been so tired these past four years."


Contact Erika Oblea at [email protected]

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