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Students hit Mall to see 44

Published: January 23, 2009
Section: Front Page


INAUGURATION: Community Advisor Paul Balik ‘10 traveled to Washington D.C. with his hall to see the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  The students rented a Branvan to make the trip to Washington.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

INAUGURATION: Community Advisor Paul Balik ‘10 traveled to Washington D.C. with his hall to see the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The students rented a Branvan to make the trip to Washington.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

“O-ba-ma. O-ba-ma”

Whether in Washington D.C., the Shapiro Campus Center, or simply a dorm room, Brandeis students chanted the same cheer over and over again during the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

According to Paul Balik ‘10, who is the CA of the Community Engaged Learning hall on Gordon 2, the trip was planned spontaneously only three days before the inauguration.

“It was certainly an experience and something I’ll always remember,” he said.

While Balik and his hall did not have tickets to the inauguration, they were able to join the two million Americans who gathered on the Washington Mall to watch the ceremony on one of the many jumbotrons.

Staying at one of his resident’s houses, and braving freezing tempatures that left one resident, Sarah Gilson’12 with a case of hypothermia, Balik said that though the trip was “exhausting” it was also “a lot of fun.”

Balik’s hall was not the only group of Brandeisians to brave the cold to watch the ceremonies on the mall.

“People burst into the National Anthem and America the Beautiful” said Hannah Lust ’10 who was also in D.C. during the inauguration.

“The people were very excited” said Lust. “It was very joyous. I was very happy to be there even though it was so cold.”

Lust explained that she did not fully grasp the fact that she was actually at the ceremony until the jumbo screen panned across the National Mall in an overhead view. It made her realize she was just one in a few million people experiencing the inauguration in person.

“It was a really cool feeling” said Lust.

Unfortunately, the inauguration ceremony was not kind to everyone including Danielle Gershon ’10. Gershon had been fortunate to have a purple ticket from her Senator, which allowed her close-in priority seating, but was closed out of the ceremonies due to capacity limits.

“I had been standing in a crowd for six hours with no movement” said Gershon. “There were no lines, just crowds of people so I couldn’t tell where to go. When I finally broke through the crowd, they had closed the gate and it was too late for me to get in.”

Students who remained on campus for the inauguration still felt emotional.

“Someone to my left was crying” said Alex Pizzi ’10 who watched the inauguration in Shapiro Campus Center. Pizzi had come from her Organic Chemistry class with Professor Pontrello who let his students out early to watch the inauguration, and was impressed that the Shapiro Campus Center and Shapiro Atrium were so packed for the viewing.

Also in Shapiro Campus Center during the inauguration was president of the Brandeis Democrats, Jason Paul ’09, who spoke to the Hoot about future plans for the club. For this semester, the Democrats will focus on recruiting for new leadership, continuing to educate its members on issues, and bringing the College Democrats of Massachusetts to Brandeis.

“We want to get you informed and phased-in and do it in a social atmosphere” said Paul. “There is a tendency to fall back this semester but that’s not productive.” The Democrats also want to continue doing community service around Waltham as they had in the spring of 2008.

The Brandeis Democrats did not celebrate the inauguration together as a group because Paul believed that the ceremony was more for “personally celebrating.” He believed students should be celebrating as an American and not need to be in a democratic group.

The Brandeis Republicans refused to comment on the inauguration or future plans as a club.