Inauguration Day prompts students to reflect on democracy

Serena Bettis

A Black Lives Matter flag, an American flag and a Biden-Harris fly outside the Colorado State Capitol, Nov. 7, 2020. (Lucy Morantz | The Collegian)

The presidential inauguration was over 1,500 miles away from Colorado State University, but that did not stop students from tuning in between classes and work on Jan. 20. 

Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States just before 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, following Vice President Kamala Harris’ history-making oath of office. 

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CSU students who voted in the election made history by contributing to the highest voter turnout recorded in Colorado and had another chance to reflect on their participation in democracy come Inauguration Day. 

I think it’s important to remember we should have faith in the system of democracy at work, and even if your candidate didn’t win this time around, there’s hope that it can change in the next cycle.” -Emily Baller, CSU student

“I think it’s really important, as a participant in democracy, to engage with these things,” said Emily Baller, a junior political science and business management major. “Peaceful transition of power is not something that happens all across the world, and so at least for me, it’s something really special.”

Baller said she believes everyone should hope for the success of an incoming president, no matter the president’s or voter’s political party. 

Ben Amundson, a senior and former president of the Associated Students of CSU, echoed Baller’s sentiments. 

“Biden did not get my vote this past election, but I do hope that he can deliver on his promise to unite our country because I really believe that it’s an important and valuable thing for us,” Amundson said. “I believe as a fundamental principle, you should hope that your president does a good job at improving your country.”

Amundson said that, while he is often skeptical of any politician who promises to fix his problems, he focuses on Biden’s messages of unity when thinking about Inauguration Day. 

“I love America,” Amundson said. “I think it’s a wonderful country, and I think it’s exciting any time we have a new president, that anyone can cheer for the president no matter who they are.”

Other students paid specific attention to the inauguration following the events at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, which prompted the deployment of thousands of National Guard members to Washington, D.C., ahead of Wednesday’s event. 

CSU Young Democrats President Degan Bartels said he watched the inauguration mainly because he was concerned that it would not go smoothly but was ultimately relieved to see a peaceful transition of power. 

For Bartels, the inauguration left him reflecting on how the Donald Trump administration’s time in office was officially over and what Biden’s political stances might mean for the country.

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“I think it’s important to remember we should have faith in the system of democracy at work, and even if your candidate didn’t win this time around, there’s hope that it can change in the next cycle,” Baller said. “You can still have hope in the system because you know there’s going to be another election.”

Rebecca West, another CSU student and co-communications outreach director for CSU Young Democrats, spoke on how different this inauguration felt compared to those in the past due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the significance of the inauguration for West was not overshadowed by the extra safety precautions, as she cited a phrase Ronald Reagan brought forth in 1981.

“Inauguration is described as commonplace and miraculous because we do it every four years,” West said. “That makes it both commonplace and miraculous.”

Editor’s Note: Clarifications were added to this article on Jan. 21. 

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.