The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


From the Hilltop to Capitol Hill

From the Hilltop to Capitol Hill

All eyes were on Donald Trump at the Jan. 20 inaugural address in Washington D.C. Supporters and protestors alike watched as Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Over 20 SMU students had the opportunity to witness the inaugural address first hand as a part of a two-week special topics class offered during the January term before the spring 2017 semester started. Students chose to take the class before the results of the presidential election were known; both supporters and non-supporters were present in the class.

This particular special topics is organized every four years by SMU faculty. This years’s course was organized by Christopher Salinas, director of public discourse in the Division of Communication Studies.

Salinas thinks the class provided an exceptional opportunity for students to be present at such a history moment in history.

“This is one of those unique experiences you want from college,” Salinas said in a SMU press release. “Years from now, students won’t remember everything that happened in the classroom, but they will remember this … for the rest of their lives, they will remember they were at a presidential inaugural address.”

Students from the class also agreed this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Junior Mariela Tanchez said she believes citizens have a duty to participate and pay attention to these historic events.

“The only way we’re going to make a change is to get involved,” Tanchez said. “This is the start of a new chapter.”

Some students had a particular interest in witnessing this event. The inaugural address directly relates to first-year Kailen Kershner’s planned major.

“I’m an incoming political science major and I’m really interested in the political process,” Kershner said. “I’ll get to experience the fundamental principles that America was based upon.”

This was even some of the students’ first time in the capital. Such was the case for Junior Shayan Gaziani, who believes that partaking in this event was important despite whether one was for or against President Trump.

“To be close to something so important is astonishing,” Gaziani said. “Regardless of the outcomes of the elections, the fundamental values remain the same, the peaceful transition of power and national unity.”

Many did not know what to expect from Trump’s inaugural speech. Junior Will Budner said it could only go one of two ways.

“There is a clear contrast between appreciating constituents and appreciating one’s self,” Budner said prior to the inauguration. “We’ll see whether it turns into one of his thank you tour moments where he talks about how great he is or does what he did at his acceptance speech after the election.”

The Daily Campus talked with students following the inaugural address to get their reflections, including that of President Trump’s speech. Senior Trina-Jo Pardo was surprised at Trump’s approach.

“I remember listening and thinking to myself ‘Is he really saying this?’ It should have been Trump’s moment to try and bring America together and I think he missed the ball completely,” Pardo said.

The crowd at the inaugural address was definitely split as it had been throughout the election, according to Tanchez.

“It was really divided,” Tanchez said. “Trump supporters were adamant about being against anyone who was not with them, and Trump´s opponents were the same.”

Pardo agrees there was definitely a separation between these two groups of people.

“If you weren’t a Trump supporter, then it was probably in your best interest to pretend like it,” Pardo said. “The crowds chanted ‘lock her up’ against Hillary Clinton and even booed at Barack and Michelle Obama.”

It was an inaugural address unlike any other, according to Pardo.

“Inaugurations are supposed to be a peaceful transition of power, and it didn’t feel peaceful,” she said.

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A protestor shakes hands with a military member at the Women's March

Many protests erupted following the inaugural address, particularly the Women’s March in Washington D.C. and around the world. SMU associate journalism professor Jake Batsell was in the capital for the march. He and his wife, Tracy Everbach, an associate professor of journalism at the University of North Texas, felt it was necessary to partake in the movement.

“We felt that it was really important to express our support for brave women journalists who do their jobs and put themselves at risk to inform the public,” Batsell said. “We thought it was important to say that loudly and proudly.”

Despite the discourse and division in the country following the inaugural address, Tanchez said she believes this is the time for everyone to come together.

“I think this is a crucial time for this country to unite despite their different feelings,” Tanchez said. “At the end of the day we all want the best for our country.”

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