Author: Kelsey Longmuir
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, the Occidental community watched as Barack Obama became the president-elect of the United States. Many students and faculty saw this historic event as the personification of change and hope that Obama presented throughout his campaign.
“It was all about change from the beginning for me,” Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs Naddia Palacios said. “Now that we have a president that exemplifies that, how is that going to change America?”
“Hope was on the downhill and then Barack got elected and I think he really turned things around for a lot of people,” Warren Logan (sophomore) said. “Half of my life was seeing rights taken away and the economy diving; now I believe we can turn it around.”
There are also sentiments among the Oxy community that Obama’s victory will change the relationship between people and the government, especially between the government and communities of color.
“When we told our children they could be president, it wasn’t like we were lying, but we didn’t think it could happen,” Palacios said. “He speaks a lot to communities of color. How will my son perceive the government now?”
“It really renews my sense of pride in this country,” Logan said. “When we tell our kids that they can be anything, we’re not really lying anymore.”
This was the first presidential election in which many Oxy students participated, and there is a sense of pride at being involved in a historic moment in American history.
“I am at a loss for words, this is truly one of the most remarkable events of my life so far,” Evan Chang (first-year) said. “His victory means so much for so many people, and I am so glad that I was able to live through such a historic moment.”
“As a student, I felt that Oxy was a beautiful place to be during the victory,” Asia Canady (first-year) said. “There was laughter, tears and screaming. [This is] something that it exciting, historic and inspiring.”
“I’m incredibly proud of all the Oxy students that showed up to vote Tuesday,” Oxy for Obama coordinator Derek Mazzeo (sophomore) said. “It was voters like us who helped dispel the myth of student apathy and help bring change to America.”
The elation of Obama’s election was dampened for some by the passage of California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that eliminates the right of gay couples to marry.
“While the country took a great leap forward with electing Barack Obama, I feel that many states, including California, took steps backwards in civil rights with legislation like prop 8,” Logan said. “I feel like a second-class citizen again.”
“It is so very disappointing to hear the news about Prop 8, but I feel that it still has a chance of being repealed in the future, as there is so much anger and frustration floating around in the air,” Chang said. “With upcoming change to Washington, I feel that some of it will eventually trickle down to California.”
Mazzeo saw Obama’s election and the campaigns against props 4 and 8 as a victory for student and youth participation. “Students have left their mark on this election in a way that will be examined for decades, and we will finally have our voices heard in Washington and Sacramento,” he said.
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