Waking Up With Your New President
A surprising number of early-rising students gathered at the Anthill Pub and Grille to witness the highly anticipated inauguration of President Barack Obama at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Spirits were high as over 100 students attended the event, joining almost 37.8 million viewers nation-wide. Festivities at the pub included complimentary coffee and muffins donated by ASUCI.
While many students opted to watch Obama’s speech online at their own convenience, the students at the pub showed enthusiasm for watching the event in a group atmosphere.
“It’s cool to watch it here because everybody’s all together cheering. It’s kind of like we got to experience it together,” said Jessica Soloman, a fourth-year cognitive psychology major. “This is the most spirit I’ve ever seen at this campus.”
“I’m really happy to be here with all these people enjoying the moment … [even though] I couldn’t be there,” said Yan-Chun Liao, a third-year psychology and social behavior major.
In Washington, D.C. an estimated 1.5 million people gathered on the national mall to watch the celebration, with live performances by artists such as Aretha Franklin and Yo-Yo Ma, with California’s own senator Dianne Feinstein as the master of ceremonies. UC Irvine students did their best to recreate the lively atmosphere, alternately cheering and booing at the pub’s three big screen televisions.
Some professors canceled their morning classes in recognition of the event, urging their students to listen to the historic inauguration rather than their own lectures. In these cases, students were forced to ask themselves: In fifty years from now, which will I remember?
However, for a dedicated few this urging was unnecessary.
Kevin Chou, a fourth-year cognitive psychology major, showed up to his 8 a.m. class only to decide that seeing the inauguration was more important. Chou, along with several classmates, left the class and went to the pub instead.
“Obama’s the first president that’s really gotten my attention. For [George] Bush, I didn’t really watch either of his inaugurations; I barely remember [Bill] Clinton. But Obama has caused a large stir. Everyone is paying attention right now, and it was definitely worth skipping class to go to.”
Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, assistant manager at the pub, said she was pleased by the turnout, especially in light of the early hour.
“I knew there were some people who were coming, but I didn’t think it would be this many,” Bruninga-Matteau said. “College students getting up before noon, who knew?”
Students commented on a renewed interest in the political world, citing Obama as the first exciting political figure in their memory.
“This was the first time I ever voted, you know, first time I actually paid attention and everything,” said Henry Ta, a first-year drama major.
Alex Hoff, a fourth-year drama major, was very moved by Obama’s proper speech.
“I was choked up as fuck for half his speech. It was very moving to hear a president use correct grammar again. That made me feel very good,” Hoff said. “Of course [Obama] used a tremendous amount of rhetoric. Of course, that’s his job. But it was rhetoric I could believe in. It was things that I could hear and understand and would like to work towards, as well.”
Despite vast public excitement, fewer television viewers watched the inauguration than expected, according to a report by MSNBC. Obama’s inauguration ranks second in history to Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, which drew 41.8 million television viewers. This, however, does not account for online viewings of the inauguration.