Sunday, December 7, 2008

SA to Bus Students to Presidential Inauguration

By Sara Kitchen

SVSU students are planning to join the hundreds of thousands who will flood Washington, D.C., to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn into office.

Tickets are on sale at the box office for the January 20 inauguration. For $50, students may reserve one of 112 seats on two charter buses that will travel to D.C. on the evening of Monday, Jan. 19.

The Swearing-in Ceremony is scheduled for noon at the U.S. Capitol, and a time for the Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue has yet to be determined. 

Tickets went on sale last Monday and so far 22 have been sold. 

Student Association (SA) Parliamentarian Jeremy Jones, who helped plan the event, said he had expected to sell out of tickets last week. He attributes the lag in sales to students focusing on finals, holiday shopping and paying tuition for next semester.

“Hopefully, ticket sales will increase next week and we’ll have another marketing push when winter semester begins,” he said.

Jones said participants are not guaranteed to see Obama or the inauguration due to the crowd the ceremony is anticipated to draw. 

“It’s going to be hard once we get there to even walk through the city, let along get close enough to see anything,” he said. “But there’s a chance we’ll get to if we get there early and people are motivated to wait around for hours to get a good spot.

“Just being there will be an amazing experience.” 

Although there are no guarantees, undecided sophomore Ashley Kraft and elementary education freshman Laura Miller remain in high spirits. 

“I just think it would amazing to be in D.C. at the time of the inauguration,” Kraft said, “because this is history in the making, and I can kind of say that I’m part of history just by being in that place at the time of the inauguration.”

Miller said the disclaimer did not weigh in at all on her decision topurchase a ticket. 

“On election night, I felt like I was missing something by not being in Grant Park in Chicago,” she said. “I just would like to be [in D.C.] with fellow Americans. I have accepted that I probably would not see anything.”

Communications sophomore Bethany Freer weighed the pros and cons while at home on Thanksgiving break.

“I did not want to miss class, but this is an important event, and for only fifty dollars, why not?” she said. 

Miller predicts the atmosphere in D.C. will be one filled with excitement, anticipation, and tears. 

“I pray that on this special day, everybody will be safe and there for Barack rather than starting trouble….” she said. 

Kraft said, “I’m kind of afraid that it’s going to be really crazy with everybody there, because I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people, both people for Obama and against.”

Political science sophomore and communications director for the College Republicans Robert Anderson said he thinks he is likely to be the only Republican on the buses. 

“People have been calling me a traitor and a bandwagon jumper, but I still have my major disagreements with Obama and his picks for cabinet members thus far,” Anderson said, “but he is my President and I am willing to give him a shot, at least more so than the left ever gave President Bush.”

The trip is sponsored by SA, Minority Student Services, Residence Housing Association, Residential Life, and Student Services and Enrollment Management. 

Jones said SA asked Program Board “for an allocation to help cover the costs of food and lessen the financial burden on students, but, unfortunately, Program Board denied the request.”

Program Board President Shane Williamson said that due to the lag of ticket sales among other issues, Program Board voted against funding the trip an additional $1,000.

“If you look at the breakdown of the costs and benefits of the program,” Williamson said, “you can see that 112 students will get about $11,800 of student money to go to an inauguration that one, they are not guaranteed to see Barack Obama, and two, if something goes wrong and they don’t make it there, they don’t get their money back.”

Williamson said Program Board was hesitant to support the trip without first seeing a budget.

“We saw it as kind of a waste of money and ill planning,” he said. 

If tickets do not sell out to the students, SA plans to allow faculty and staff the opportunity to purchase them.

“We didn’t think it was right to give students funds to a trip that isn’t necessarily going to benefit SVSU students,” Williamson said. 

Jones estimates it will take 10-12 hours to arrive in D.C. The buses will leave the night of the inauguration and arrive back in Saginaw Wednesday morning. 

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