In a standing-room only crowd, students, professors and Bloomington residents gathered around multiple TVs in the Indiana Memorial Union, bedecked in an impressive assortment of Barack Obama hats, shirts and even mittens. Space was limited, but there was plenty of enthusiasm to go around.
Some stood on chairs in order to see. Children sat on shoulders to catch a glimpse at the screens up front. Others simply held each other as Obama took the oath of office. Indiana University senior Kourtney Gray, helped plan the event. He said he couldn’t help but think of his mother during Obama’s inaugural address.
“She grew up in Louisiana and Chicago. During that time segregation was rampant,” Gray said. ” I just thought about how blessed I was to have grown up when I did.”
Gray said he was happy the on-campus event drew so many people to watch the inauguration together.
“I just noticed looking at the people [at the Union]. Even some [John] McCain backers came, in support the president, regardless who he was. Even though McCain did not win, ” Gray said. “They’re supporting the president, supporting the country and supporting America. And want to work for a common goal and come together for that. And that’s how I’m going to look at everything from now on.”
Joseph French is a member of the African-American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha at IU, which also helped plan the inauguration party. He said he is excited about Obama’s presidency, but also said he has high expectations.
“Two words: no excuses. No excuses. All the doubts I’ve had before; those go out the window right now,” he said.
Catalina Bartlett is a graduate student at IU. She used her office hours Tuesday to watch the inauguration and said the crowd at the Memorial Union Building left an impression on her that she will remember.
“I think I was noticing the diversity and the collective sense of relief and optimism even though our country is in crisis,” Barlett said.
“I used to live in Washington D.C. and I’ve been to the [National] Mall many times. And I’ve never seen that many people in that mall at any given time. So it was so exuberant to see that there’s so much goodwill behind him, that people want him to succeed.”