Students face crowds, cold to witness inauguration

Two College students were able to view the inauguration of President Barack Obama from a vantage point that was better than any on campus.

On Jan. 20, while most students gathered around projector screens in the Brower Student Center, Eickhoff Hall and classrooms, junior political science major Mike Tracey and his girlfriend, sophomore political science and sociology major Anya Saretzky, were in Washington, D.C.

“It almost seems surreal,” Tracey said when reflecting on what they witnessed.

Although they had planned on attending without a ticket, they were able to obtain tickets from a friend of Saretzky’s father. They were in the center of the silver section, just behind the reflecting pool that is in front of the Capitol Building.

They both agreed that while there were countless attendees and it was a tight fit, almost everyone was courteous and genuinely happy to share the historic moment with thousands of their fellow Americans.

“I’ve been in big groups before,” Saretzky said, “(but) the attitude of this crowd was very different, very positive.”

The pair took a bus to the city from Baltimore and stayed with friends at Georgetown University, as nearly every hotel was filled. Just days after the election, CNN reported that many hotels in Washington had already sold out for the inauguration.

Tracey described the “good energy coming from the city,” as one of his favorite parts of the trip as well as watching the actual swearing-in.

The only down side, Tracey said, was having to stand for more than 10 hours in the bitter cold, though he was glad to make the sacrifice.

“It seemed only logical that (we) go to the inauguration,” Tracey said. “My girlfriend and I have been very active throughout the campaign.”

Both volunteered for the Obama campaign for nearly two years, long before he won the Democratic nomination in August. They worked at various sites, including the New Jersey headquarters in Princeton and on campus with voter registration drives.

Tracey also went to New Hampshire for the January 2008 Primary Election, and was featured in The Signal in October’s coverage of student debates.

“People have a lot of hope,” Tracey said when discussing the massive support for Obama, the first black President. “Americans of all ages can be proud.”