Before midnight on Tuesday, shouts of happiness could be heard all over campus. The residential quad between Gee Hall and New Building was filled with hundreds of students who were jumping up and down with excitement. One student continually blew into a conch shell and the noise echoed across the space. The celebration was in response to Sen. Barack Obama being named the 44th president of the United States. This election was momentous as Obama is the first African American president. Countries all over the world celebrated with us, and Kenya, where Obama’s father was born, declared Thursday a national holiday.
Students across the country realized throughout the campaign what an important election this was. Issues like climate change, war and economic downturn have spurred students to take a stance in politics, something many of them never participated in before. Previously half-formed ideas rapidly turned into true alliances for either Sen. John McCain or Obama. Heated debates sprang up at social functions about who was the better candidate. Students on Rider’s campuses, as well as on campuses all over the country, became election crazy. Many put signs and slogans on their doors supporting their candidate; others wore T-shirts, buttons or stickers. Students realized that the country is at a point in time where true leadership and effort are needed. If the current issues are ignored and not dealt with now, in the future it will be too late for change.
When networks declared Obama the winner around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, students flocked together and started shouting, singing and dancing, not knowing the person next to them, just knowing that they all were rooting for the same person. Several chants of “Yes, we did,” and “Obama,” echoed across the campus.
These students know their candidate — they didn’t vote for Obama because he was a celebrity or because he has a winning smile. Obama’s plans don’t exclude college students. He has plans for easing the financial burden of students by expanding volunteer groups.
“I put forward a plan saying we’re going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, in exchange for some form of community service,” Obama said. “We will make college affordable for you, and we’ll pay for it by getting banks out of the business of mediating student loans between the government and students.”
Although reform may not come as quickly as some people may want, Obama will be working hard to change the country. Already he is carefully selecting people to serve in his Cabinet. The campaigning is over now, and students may not be as excited about choosing a Cabinet as they were about the debates, but it is still important for students to keep an eye on what is going on. This point in history is one in a million, and for many, this is the last presidential election they will be voting in as college students. The fact that so many students from different backgrounds came together on this campus to celebrate is uplifting. Hopefully, Obama will bring together more than just college students, and help mend broken ties and ugly feelings and boost the United States to a better position in the world.
Written By Opinion Editor, Nadine Tester