The importance of the swearing-in of Barack Obama as our 44th President was not lost on the students of St. Michael's today. Seems like nearly every campus institution was getting in on the excitement, offering up some way of commemorating this "historic event" (and in such decidedly non-partisan terms, of course). The College Conservatives, however, did not get in the action, at least publicly.
I've heard numerous reports of faculty canceling class today or altering arrangements so that students could watch the inaugural festivities — one of my professors turned today's class meeting into an online course, complete with podcast, and two of my former professors canceled their classes because they're actually in Washington today. Even Sodexo dining services got in on the act with a dinner themed to Obama's hometown of Chicago in the dining hall, with classic Chicagoan dishes like deep dish pizza and sirloin steak on the menu.
But perhaps the most striking quality of all is how excited most students were for today. Lots of Obama t-shirts were out today, including at least one "Tanzanians for Obama" shirt. I overheard so many people talking about watching the inauguration this afternoon, I think it even surpassed the Lost season premiere as the go-to TV event.
There were plenty of places on-campus to watch Obama's oath and subsequent speech with the greater community. One television was set up in the dining hall of the Alliot Student Center, with another out in the lobby. Large viewings were being held in the library, the Center for Women and Gender, and the recital hall in the McCarthy Arts Center. I chose to watch with a small group of friends in the common room of my suite, though — the same place I watched history every night as it unfolded this past fall.