The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Students watch ground-breaking event at locations around campus

Emma Driscoll | Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday’s historic inauguration of President Barack Obama was an inspirational moment to remember for many students, a moment they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

“It was important that I saw history being made,” sophomore Sean Gibbons said. “Just how historic it was, not just the fact that he’s black, but the fact that so much of the world has been inspired by his election.”

Senior Emma Whitten took in the inauguration from the lounge area of LaFortune Student Center, where many students chose to watch the inauguration.

“It was really cool watching it with a ton of people,” Whitten said. “Everybody cheered at all the right moments and I cried a little bit.”

Even from the television screens in LaFortune, Whitten was impressed with the amount of people that gathered to be at the actual inauguration.

“It was kind of incredible when they showed the shots of everybody out in the Mall,” Whitten said.

Senior, Caitlin Conway watched the inauguration from her off-campus house. She enjoyed Aretha Franklin’s performance.

“I’m from Detroit, so I loved the Aretha song – one of Michigan’s natural resources [as voted by the Michigan legislature],” Conway said.

Conway noted that the inauguration was particularly exciting for the current generation of college students.

“Our generation, it’s the first inauguration of a new president that we can remember really well,” Conway said. “It’s inspiring to see someone who I know is going to being change we need.”

She said she is confident Obama can handle the challenges of the presidency.

“I thought [Obama] did a good job of integrating the issue of the economy and things that are most pressing with things that are pushed to the wayside, like healthcare, education and environmental sustainability,” Conway said. “He gave me hope that he’s going to try to solve a lot of problems at once instead of handling things for the short term.”

Senior Lorna Bath said she was moved after watching the inauguration in her dorm room.

“I felt like Obama touched on everything that had gotten him the presidency, focusing on his ideas of change and how immediate action need to be taken in order to solve the problem that we’re in,” Bath said. “He emphasized that we have a solution. It ‘s in our history, we were brought up with this notion that as Americans, we can do anything.”

Whitten said that Obama’s perspective on government stood out to her.

“I really liked when he said some people question whether a government is too big or whether a government is too small, but the real question is whether a government works. I thought that was very insightful,” Whitten said.

For Gibbons, the attitude of the rest of the world toward Obama and his election has been inspiring.

“I think it’s really encouraging that so much of the world is so hopeful about his presidency and so inspired by his election,” Gibbons said. “I think it’s really impressive how the whole world came together to celebrate his election and I think it bodes well for his presidency.”

Gibbons said Obama’s speech demonstrated that the nation has work to do, but also confident that America can resume its leadership position and be an example for the rest of the world.

“I definitely got the feeling from [Obama’s] inauguration speech that we have a lot we need to do as a country,” Gibbons said. “A lot of changes are going to be necessary, a lot of difficult changes.”