Students celebrate at Kingsbury

By Isabella Bravo, Staff Writer

The ceremonial song “Hail to the Chief” that followed President Barack Obama’s oath of office was inaudible in Kingsbury Hall on Tuesday morning over the thunderous applause from audience members who gathered to watch the inaugural address of the 44th president.

Nearly 2,000 U students, faculty and staff, along with Salt Lake City residents, filled Kingsbury Hall to welcome Obama to the White House. The Kingsbury audience gave a standing ovation when Obama said, “We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Many of those in the audience said Obama’s vision of joint responsibility between the people and the government was the idea that resonated most with them.

Yevgeniya Kopeleva, the chief of staff for the Associated Students of the University of Utah, said as a member of student government, Obama’s message and ability to inspire confidence with his speech assured her of his leadershipcapacity.

“(Obama’s address) made me cry,” said Kopeleva, a senior in mass communication. “He let everyone know we can be the change we wish to see in the world.”

The historic inauguration drew both Republicans and Democrats to Kingsbury Hall.

“I didn’t vote for Obama,” said Doug Petersen, a senior in English literature. “I’m still a Republican, but whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, he’s the decision-maker8212;now he represents all of us.”

Petersen said the inauguration of Obama was a commemorative event, and

despite the fact that Obama is the first black president, he would have preferred fewer references to race in the inaugural event.

“It’s an important moment because of the transition of power,” he said. “It’s time to leave behind race. The best way to move beyond race as a society and country is to do just that. Talking about (race) just perpetuates it as an issue.”

Cheronne Anderson, a Salt Lake City resident, said sharing Obama’s inaugural moment with her two children was her highest priority.

“I begged to get tickets to (the address) in Washington, D.C., but this is the closest that I could get,” Anderson said. She said she could not miss the momentous occasion to watch the inaugural speech from the first black president of the United States, and the significance for her as a black woman could not be underestimated.

“Race can’t be ignored and to do so is an insult to history,” she said. “(With Obama), are we more hopeful? Yes. Is race defining? No.”

The broadcast was followed by a panel discussion with Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers and political science professor Tim Chambliss, moderated by Doug Fabrizio of KUER’s RadioWest. The panelists and audience members discussed the challenges Obama will face during his presidency, including health care reform, foreign policy and the economic crisis.

Jowers said Obama has a 76 percent approval rating, but this might not last forever.

“President Bush had a 91 percent approval rating at one point,” Jowers said. “The party’s over. That’s what happens to those 80 percent approval ratings. I’m hoping Obama will take on these challenges.”

Chambliss said that having an “action-oriented president” and a “Congress that’s ready to govern” will make it easier for Obama to execute his vision and work with the Democratic Congress.

Sage Blingley, a Salt Lake City resident, said during the forum that Obama’s presidency gives him hope.

“For the first time in a long time, I actually feel like there’s a possibility for change,” he said.

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Tyler Cobb

Nearly 2,000 people gathered at Kingsbury Hall Tuesday morning to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as President. The crowed stood on their feet during the oath and let out a tremendous cheer one the oath was finished.

Tyler Cobb

Jim Denier cheers after Barack Obama finished taking the Oath of Office. Denier watched the inauguration at Kingsbury Hall.