On Monday night, over 150 UR students met outside the Information Technology Center and boarded three coach buses headed toward Washington, D.C. to witness the 56th Presidential Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama.
The buses arrived at 4 a.m. in Largos, Maryland. Students then rode the Metro into the city and made their way toward the National Mall, where they waited until 10:30 a.m. for dignitaries to arrive on the steps of the Capitol building in below-freezing temperatures.
For those students who were unable to attend the Inauguration in person, the Political Science Undergraduate Council and representatives of the Interfaith Chapel helped coordinate an Inauguration viewing in Strong Auditorium.
There was a large turnout in Strong, as well as at other locations on campus. Some students crowded together in Gleason Library and the IT Center to view the historic election.
The ‘Board the Bus” trip to Washington, D.C. was a collaboration between Women’s Caucus and the Black Students’ Union. The organizations raised $10,000 with the help of R World R Vote, the Students’ Association, the David T. Kearns Center and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership. These donations made it possible for students to pay only $15 per ticket fare.
Within 25 minutes of going on sale at the Common Market, 125 of the 150 tickets were sold.
BSU President and senior Ashley Anderson played a leading role in planning the event. ‘The inspiration for the trip came from [senior] Julianne Nigro, vice President of Women’s Caucus, and myself, president of the Black Students’ Union,” Anderson said. ‘Women’s Caucus and the Black Students’ Union were scheduled to host a program on Jan. 20 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Week of Activities. On the night of the elections, Julianne and myself decided to plan a bus trip to Washington, D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration.”
BSU and Women’s Caucus also hoped to bring the community together through the trip.
‘The goal of the trip was to bring students together and experience President Obama’s vision about unity and coming together as American people,” Anderson said.
Damien Garcia, a student who participated in ‘Board the Bus,” believed the trip was worth standing in the cold. ‘I had such a great time in D.C,” Garcia said. ‘It meant a lot to me to witness such a turning point in our nation’s history. Being of mixed heritage myself, seeing Barack Obama sworn in meant even more to me. It’s amazing that so many people came together to realize this one dream. The sheer amount of people there was astounding. To be able to get our students down there to be a part of history was great.”
Karron is a member of the Class of 2011.