"There Is a New Chapter Opening"

1/20/2009

  

American and international students expressed optimism about President Barack Obama as they watched his historic inauguration in Washington and on screens set up around campus, and History and Government faculty members shared their views in media interviews. 

“There is a new chapter opening," said Associate Professor of History Robert Bellinger, director of the Black Studies program at Suffolk University, in an interview with Fox 25. Bellinger said he always believed there would someday be an African-American president, but said he didn’t expect it this soon. “You see young children – African-American children – who are aspiring to be president, and that’s exciting.”

Opens doors for every nationality

Enise Davoodi, an Iranian student majoring in marketing, said: “Barack Obama being president opens doors for every nationality in the world.  He broke a lot of barriers to get where he is today -- background, race, religion.  He’s a unique individual and I like the way he speaks to the common man.” 

“This is a very important day in the lives of many people,” said Habiba El-Derini, a management and marketing major from Egypt. “Outside of America, we're all excited to see a President who can make a change for our side of the world instead of America alone.  Barack Obama is a charismatic, influential, and motivational leader.” 

Alexander Anestis, a student from Greece, said: “Americans are emotionally moved by Barack Obama and they should be – he is going to be the new Kennedy.  I think he’s capable to do what he promises, especially to the American people.  I also hope he improves his relations with Europe.” 

Liberty vs. security

Assistant Professor Brian Conley, one of several members of the Government Department in Washington with students for a Presidential Inauguration Seminar,  recapped President Obama’s speech in an interview with New England Cable News. Paraphrasing the president, he noted that “this tradeoff between liberty and security is essentially a false one. You don't necessarily need to sacrifice liberty to achieve security. I thought these were interesting comments on what has been the prevailing paradigm for the past eight years.”

Reassuring ritual

Discussing inauguration addresses since the birth of the nation on Fox 25, History Department Chair Robert Allison said: “Presidential inaugurations really are special events.  Every four years we do this and it is, as President Kennedy said, ‘not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom.’  And it’s a humbling thing to realize that since 1789 every four years we have met to inaugurate a president, sometimes a new one, sometimes one who had been reelected.  … It is part of the continuity of American democracy. … It is a reassuring thing.”

The moment had special import for most young people on campus.

“My friends and I have had only two presidents our entire lives,” said Danielle Cote, a global business and accounting major from Connecticut.  “This was the first time I voted and it was the first time for a lot of people my age.  I feel Barack Obama is changing the face of politics.  I like his views, especially on healthcare.  It’s easy to believe what he says.”

“Watching and listening to Barack Obama was a real moving experience – I almost cried a little bit.  I have no doubt that he will fulfill all of his promises.  He’s a good role model and exactly what everyone in this country has been waiting for.  He has an honest quality about him,” said Ki Williams, a public relations major from Dorchester.

“I was thoroughly disgusted with the speech.  I felt it was full of empty, disconnected phases,” said Jim Wilson, an American History major from Florida and president of Suffolk GOP.

A turning point

“This was a special day, because it was a turning point for our country.  I feel Obama will be a good and influential leader, but we'll have to wait and see,” said Mike McAuliffe, 22, senior, management major from Billerica

“I was very impressed with his speech; he made some really valid points," said Stacie Britton, a management major from Peabody.  "He has made a real effort to reach out to the people of America.  I like his comment to the Muslim community when he said: ‘People don’t judge you by what you destroy, but what you build.” 

“It was a really beautiful speech, and I felt good about our country.  Obama can relate to people of every age and nationality.  He has this powerful, stoic way about him that’s very reassuring,” said Nicole Lee, a broadcast journalism major from Indonesia.

Responsibility on American people

“This was the first inauguration I've ever watched, and it was great.  I like the way Obama said that ‘we have to brush ourselves off and start anew.'  He put the responsibility on the American people.  I also liked the many times that he said ‘we’ instead of ‘I,’" said Kaitlin Flynn, a psychology major from Connecticut.

“I thought it was a good speech; inspiring and hopeful.  I think Obama will be able to work with both parties and Congress to move America forward and in the right direction,” said Drew Pennetti, an English major from Connecticut.

“I like the way everyone feels good about this change in American politics.  Obama is a real guy who is a leader and someone people can look up to.  I think it’s great to see all the excitement around here.  This is the first time people my age are into politics,” said Kristie Gillooly, a print journalism major from Stoughton.

"Tomorrow the work begins"

“If people are interested in how the country works, they'll pay attention to public affairs,” said Professor Allison. “Today is the day to be exuberant, and tomorrow is the day when the work begins.  Then, we will see how things go after today.”



 

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