U.S. presidential inauguration

Campus bars filled with cheers, laughter at inauguration parties

Students, staff and community members gathered at campus bars to watch the inauguration ceremony for U.S. President Barack Obama.

Over 225 people gathered in the Grawood to watch Obama's inauguration. Photo: Greg Weston

Dalhousie's Grawood campus pub was full of enthusiastic cheers on Tuesday afternoon as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

The cheers were loudest during Obama's inauguration speech, particularly when the new president mentioned foreign aid and a new direction for the country.

Dal student Nicole Brown described the occasion as life-changing.

"The election was one thing, but it's totally different to be here on this day," said Brown, who attended the event with a group of friends, all sporting various Obama T-shirts. "I never expected to see (a black president) in my lifetime. It's motivational because it shows that anything is possible."

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The Wardroom at King's College packed a more modest crowd to celebrate the historic event. Photo: Meghan Harrison

In between the cheers were laughter and sarcastic applause for outgoing president George W. Bush. Obama's remarks to Bush for his "service to the nation" went over as a joke instead of a thanks at the Dalhousie bar.

Once in a lifetime

Lori Turnbull, assistant professor for Dalhousie's Political Science department, moved her Structure of Canadian Parliamentary Government class to the Grawood for the event.

"It's important for students to understand that what they study in class applies to the real world," said Turnbull, who was sporting an Obama/Biden '08 campaign pin. "I can give a lecture anytime, but the inauguration of the first black president of the United States will never happen again."

Obama's inauguration speech was typical of such an event, said Turnbull.

"He stated the obvious, about change from the old administration and recognizing the troubles for America, but he ended on a positive note." Turnbull is looking forward to Obama's presidency.

David Sutherland, a fifth-year student in Turnbull's class, is afraid the inauguration will mean the end of Obama-mania.

"It's sad that the love affair with (Obama) is over, because now he'll have to face a lot of criticism," he said. Sutherland thought the speech was bland, but admits he would have skipped class to see it if his class hadn't been moved to the Grawood.

A full house

The Grawood party featured an inauguration-themed drink deal. Dalhousie Student Union Vice-President Mark Coffin had the idea for $3 "yagger'bamas," but the hard-alcohol shots didn't sell well at 1pm on a Tuesday.

"They weren't as popular as I thought they'd be," said waitress Ellen Paveley.

The lack of success for yagger'bamas can't be attributed to a thin crowd. More than 225 people crowded the bar to watch the inauguration. Paveley was surprised with the turnout.

"I thought maybe half this many people would be here," said Paveley. "I didn't think it would be nearly this busy."

The crowd held more than just the typical gathering of university students. Adults and their children crowded in front of the projection screen to catch a glimpse of Obama and the inauguration ceremony.

A lighter celebration

A more modest viewing of the inauguration took place a couple of blocks away in the University of King's College Wardroom, where 60 people watched the event on a much smaller screen.

Despite the smaller crowd, the significance of the event was just as influential on the King's students.

"Everything, I think, will be known as ‘before or after this moment' within American and global history, especially in terms of the economy and international relations," said fifth-year King's student Victoria O'Neill, who feared an assassination attempt right up until the inauguration speech.

Second-year student James Southcott was relieved that Bush's presidency is over.

"I'm an American, so I've been waiting eight years to get out of this and now the claws have parted," he said.
"I think we've finally made the right decision and I'm really happy about it."


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