Inauguration is a rite of passage of sorts at GW. With four years of college and four years of the presidency serving as an easy heuristic, virtually every undergraduate can experience the rush of inauguration at some point.
Tourists pour into the city from all over the world to see the president sworn in. Security tightens on campus. Administrators and students plan for GW’s Inaugural Ball, organizing entertainment and plans for the night that many consider GW’s version of prom.
That said, this inauguration feels different. The fervor of the 2008 election has faded into a more humbled excitement.
When students ran down to the White House the night Osama Bin Laden was killed over a year ago, there was a genuine air of excitement. It was an honest and organic response, an overflow of emotion over the death of a national enemy.
Running to the White House in 2012 to celebrate President Barack Obama’s re-election was part of the GW tradition of being the first to storm 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But the 2008’s energy didn’t carry over.
As we make the final touches on our ball outfits and find spots to watch Monday’s swearing-in from Jumbotrons on the Capitol grounds and the National Mall, this inauguration will carry a different tune than in 2009, when the nation rang in its first black president.
GW prides itself on having a front-row seat to inaugurations and other major political moments. Political activism is part of GW’s culture. Students volunteer for campaigns and intern on Capitol Hill.
Even the University’s most recent marketing campaign is rooted in political language: “Here, a stroke of genius can a become a stroke of the president’s pen.”
But this is not the culminating experience of being a Colonial.
The tradition of inauguration as GW’s hallmark moment will undoubtedly live on, and this is a thrilling time to live in the District.
But with four years in D.C., the inauguration shouldn’t be your only defining milestone.