This year 18 CSUB students, along with political science professor Kent Price, were among the crowd of thousands of people who gathered, some as early as 6 a.m., to witness a historical moment: the 57th presidential inauguration. Through a program called The Washington Center (TWC), Price and his students went to Washington, D.C., for 11 days, with the help of CSUB President Dr. Horace Mitchell, Provost Dr. Soraya Coley and fundraising.
The students spent their time attending seminars, sight seeing and attending the inauguration. Some of the guest speakers included Senior Executive Producer and Host of C-SPAN, Steve Scully; Senior Advisor of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Ben LaBolt; Editor of USA Today, Owen Ullman; and Co-Chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Frank Fahrenkoph and Michael McCurry.
In addition to the festivities coordinated by TWC the students and Price were invited by Rep.Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to have dinner in his office, who they met on the plane ride to the district. “My favorite part of the trip was being able to sit down with leaders such as Kevin McCarthy, the House majority whip, the first secretary of political affairs at the German Embassy, and scholars at the Cato Institute and ask them questions. It was awesome to be able to hear their story and what they thought about certain issues of the day. They did not dodge our questions. They seemed to answer them honestly and openly which was really cool,” said sophomore political science major, Matthew Brown.
The group also met Rep. Jim Costa, who gave them a tour of the Library of Congress, a moment that resonated with senior political science major Jillian Rice. “He took us up to the capital building and he said ‘You know, this is our capital, this is our building, I just work there.’ I thought that was really inspiring to see people in politics and they have such an influence and they are being really humble about it,” said Rice.
Through members of congress Price and his students were able to get tickets to the inauguration. “Congressman Costa did us a great favor…We were standing close enough where we could see everything. From being sworn into Beyonce singing, it was very nice,” said Price. For some students it was their first time going to the capital or an inauguration. “It was cool to be a part of it and see it in person, and to just be in the atmosphere. There were students of different political ideologies that went as well. All of us were just kind of celebrating our country. They talked about the inauguration being a peaceful transition of power and a celebration for the future of our country,” said Rice.
Even students who weren’t members of the Democratic Party were amazed to be present during the inauguration. “I would relate it to going to Disneyland with small children. There’s just something about it that brings a smile to your face. I am a republican and do not agree with much of what President Obama does but it was still amazing to see the president of the United States get sworn in and listen to him give his inaugural address,” said Brown.