Inauguration Brews Excitement
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 01:02
In January 1981, Kathleen DePippo (NHS ’84) found her way into one of President Reagan’s inaugural balls as an unassuming Georgetown freshman.
“One of my friends was a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, so she had two press passes, and there were eight of us so we just kept passing them back and forth until we all got in,” DePippo said.
A Tradition for Every Georgetown Generation
Experiences like these highlight what makes Georgetown so special come inauguration time: with its politically active culture and location just a few miles from the National Mall, Georgetown allows its students to better appreciate both the glamor and historical significance of a tradition that every undergraduate gets to experience once in his four years on the Hilltop.
True to tradition, hundreds of thousands of Americans will congregate in front of the Capitol building to witness President Obama’s second inauguration Jan. 21. While most students will not be able to bypass security nowadays with recycled press passes, many will wait outside in the cold for hours just to catch a glimpse of the president taking his oath of office.
Kevin Leahy (COL ’12) was part of a large group that trekked to the National Mall at 2 a.m. to witness Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
“There was just a universal fervor about the inauguration, especially after the mandate of the election. There were Democrats and Republicans alike who came out, even if they didn’t vote for Obama,” Leahy said. “The idea of hope and change, even if people didn’t vote for him, still really brewed in everyone.”
Some of Leahy’s group turned back before the ceremony, while others who braved the cold later suffered from hypothermia after hours outside.
The College Democrats are leading a similar charge to the inauguration this year, and plan to leave campus at 3:30 a.m. Monday.
“Some people didn’t get tickets, and we didn't want to exclude anyone, so we're going down together so they can still be included and be around friends,” College Democrats President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) said.
Many students were able to obtain tickets through the Democratic National Committee or their representatives in Congress, who are allotted a limited number of tickets from the inauguration committee and can distribute them to constituents through a lottery system or other methods.
Students who live in solid red states or congressional districts often had an easier time getting tickets than students who hail from areas that supported Obama in the general election.
Chad Carson (SFS ’14), who interned for Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) last spring, emailed the senator’s office to inquire about tickets last week. The office still had tickets available, which Carson was able to secure.
“Not many people from Missouri want to make the effort to come out here. It could be influenced by the fact that Missouri is Republican,” Carson said. “It is weird that I was able to score tickets somehow a week before the inauguration.”
Christina Wing (MSB ’16), who is from New York, was able to get tickets through personal contacts in her representative’s office, which used a lottery system that also allowed for comments.
“I was able to put that I was a Georgetown student,” Wing said, “and so already in D.C. Even though it was a lottery system, they were still aware of people’s situations.”
A Nonpartisan Political Event
The inauguration does, however, have the effect of appealing across party lines, with both Republicans and Democrats turning out in large numbers.
College Republicans Chair Alex Cave (COL ’15) explained that even though he does not agree with Obama on certain issues, he sees the inauguration as separate from the political debate that dominates on other days of the year.
"I think that there’s a difference between the election and inauguration,” Cave said. “Elections are about political persuasion, but the inauguration is about the fact that [Obama] was elected by a majority of Americans in the popular vote and the Electoral College [and] we need to respect that. We should celebrate that our democracy works and changes power consistently every four years.”
College Republicans Treasurer Victor Tolomeo (COL ’14) agreed.
“I have a friend who works for the Obama campaign who had extra tickets, so he is dragging me along for the ride,” Tolomeo said. “Obviously I did support Governor Romney, but at the same time, you give respect to the office of the president and its history.”
Some students, however, said they would prefer to stay on campus to watch the televised inauguration.
Jack Harrington (MSB ’16) said he is unsure if he would make the effort to attend if he didn’t have a ticket. “You wouldn’t even be able to see if you are back by the Lincoln Memorial, and I just don’t know if it’s really worth it,” he said.
A Campus Abuzz
Despite similar reservations about the cold, crowds and limited visibility, Georgetown administrators expect that campus dorms will welcome hundreds of student visitors this weekend.
Housing Services sent a campus-wide email Dec. 6 stating that students are required to register any guests before Jan. 17, adding that each student can host a maximum of two guests for the period between 8 a.m. Jan. 18 and 8 a.m. Jan. 22. Student Housing also forbids students from subleasing their apartments to visitors and warned that guests to campus may be asked to produce formal identification by campus police.