When Barack Obama took the podium for the first time as president, Avery Wehner felt excited.
“Nov. 4 was a victory, but this is much more so,” said Wehner, public relations director for the College Democrats. Wehner described the occasion as a “Where were you?” moment.
In partnership with the DeKalb Democratic Party and the Young Democrats, the College Democrats hosted a free inauguration watch party in the Holmes Student Center Tuesday. As Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Obama, close to 150 people had gathered in the auditorium, the majority of them applauding, Wehner said.
But people didn’t just flock to the auditorium. People flocked to any TV showing inauguration coverage as 11 a.m. rolled around. Some classes watched Obama’s swearing-in and speech via the Internet, and heavy traffic on those Web sites slowed some of those live feeds to a crawl.
Political science professor Barbara Burrell attended the watch party. She has seen many presidential inaugurations, but said that none compare to Obama’s.
“It was probably more historic” than any she has seen, Burrell said, after watching Obama become the first African-American president in U.S. history.
College Democrat Eric Schmack supported the new president from the beginning.
“I felt that he got it better than the other guys,” Schmack said. “He always thought he understood what the problem was and what the solution is.”
Schmack described Obama as a “visionary,” stating that the country needs him after “six years of total Republican control.” He said he hopes Obama will begin a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and redeploy them in Afghanistan.
Wehner said she hopes Obama will keep the youth engaged and informed like he did during his campaign.
Perhaps the most idealistic sentiments for Obama’s presidency were voiced by Scott Morrasy, a member of the DeKalb Democratic Party.
“He’s going to make this country better for Americans, and he’s going to make this planet better for human beings,” Morrasy said.