In Depth

Special Schedule Allows PA Community to Watch Inaugural Address

Starting around 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 20, Uncommons began to fill up with students eager to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America. After Obama won the election, Andover teachers and administrators knew that a number of people on campus would want to watch the inauguration. Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of CAMD, said, “To not allow our students to watch the inauguration did not seem an option.” At the same time, the administration, she said, “didn’t want to force those to watch who didn’t want to. There were initial concerns about McCain supporters and students who just didn’t want to watch.” Andover allowed students to view the inauguration because of its historical nature. Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students, called it a “critical thinking error” to compare this to any other inauguration. Hoyt said, “Time stopped because [Obama’s inauguration] was unique and the first of its kind.” He compared this inauguration to such events as the Challenger or the moon landing in 1969. According to Griffith, the importance of the event was not about Obama being a Democrat, but rather that “50 years ago, he would not have even been allowed to vote in parts of the nation.” Hoyt said, “Since we pride ourselves on providing the best educational experience possible, we should provide the opportunity to witness, experience and participate in [national] events that have great import.” Some students wonder if they would have had an allotted time to watch the inauguration had McCain won the election. According to Griffith, the answer is no. She said that she saw no reason why they would when they did not for the Clinton and Bush inaugurations. According to Hoyt, Andover would have allowed for the same inauguration viewing had Hillary Clinton won the election. The majority of students opted to head to Uncommons due to the convenient combination of time and location. Hoyt said that he expected the huge turnout. Students were able to eat lunch and sit among their peers while watching the inauguration, which Griffith said was the intention behind opening up this venue. The Oliver Wendell Holmes library, Kemper Auditorium and Gelb were also broadcasting the proceedings. The boys in Stearns had a pizza party as they watched. Griffith watched from CAMD, where she said there was a full house. “Many students came in who were previously watching from Uncommmons and were not pleased with the sound.” She said that students really wanted to be able to “hang on to every word,” and that “all eyes were glued” to the screen as Aretha Franklin took the stage to sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” before Vice President Joe Biden took the oath of office. Hoyt said, “The scope of this makes you feel like you’re a part of it, no matter where you are.” To Griffith, the inauguration was “symbolic of change.” She said that the nation is diverse today, but its history truly is “black and white.” The hour-long break was, according to Griffith, “not about the candidate or party, it was recognizing that hopefully we’re beginning a new era in race relations.”