July 19, 2009

‘Obamania’ Grips Campus

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Obamania erupted in Collegetown just after 11 p.m. on Election Day as Barack Obama was declared the 44th president of the United States. People poured out of bars and crowded the streets as they soaked in the historic moment.
“It’s crazy, oh my God,” Leslie Tseng ’10 said describing the scene at Collegetown as the last hours of Nov. 4 ticked by. “Everyone is running up and down Dryden Road, yelling ‘Barack Obama’ and setting off fireworks.”
Having witnessed a change of presidential power for the first time in eight years, students congregated on Ho Plaza and stormed into Olin Library in a euphoric surge of exhilaration. Near the Commons, conga drums rattled as over 100 people of all ages breakdanced and sang, yelled and cheered in front of a giant screen at a party hosted at the Women’s Community Building by the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.
Amidst the festive atmosphere, however, the supporters of John McCain on campus quietly expressed their disappointment.
“Another resident who supported John McCain knocked on my door and asked for a hug,” said Elise Gonzales ’09, who was a residential advisor at Bauer.
Although the Cornell campus appeared calm and composed in the afternoon, Cornell students, like many Americans across the country, had the presidential election tugging at their heartstrings.
Only about 30 percent of Cornellians are from New York State, so many had already mailed their absentee ballots prior to Tuesday. Nonetheless, many students turned up to polling stations across the University yesterday and proudly displayed an “I voted” sticker on their chests for the first time.
When asked about the turnout, a staff at the polling station at Robert Purcell Community Centre widened her eyes and simply exclaimed, “Huge!”
A majority of voters in Ithaca chose Barack Obama over John McCain, with the Illinois Senator garnering over 85 percent of the vote.
Obama’s campaign made student involvement a key concern, using the Internet and other technology to get the attention of the youth electorate. Many students at Cornell belong to a key contingent of Obama’s support base — the nation’s youth, or “Generation O” — who campaigned across the country for “The Change We Need.”
Obama’s background — with a Kenyan father, a Kansan mother and a childhood in Indonesia — was hoped to bring a deeper understanding of the complexity of cultures to the White House. In light of the inauguration, some international students at Cornell spoke of the respect Obama has for foreign countries.