As Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C, some estimates suggest roughly 160,000 people were in attendance — a crowd which included several University students.
First-year College student Tanner Hirschfield said in an email statement he attended the inauguration because it was the first time he voted for an incoming president, and it was the first time a Republican had been inaugurated in 12 years.
He also said he wanted to experience the “world’s greatest political spectacle” through his own eyes.
“The atmosphere of the inauguration was nothing but awe and excitement,” Hirschfield said. “Those of us lucky enough to get tickets were tightly packed watching the peaceful transition of power that separates our country from so many others.”
Although this year’s election between Trump and Hillary Clinton was politically divisive, he said he felt the inauguration was a largely positive environment.
“Besides the overwhelming boos when the Clintons were announced, there was absolutely nothing but joy among the crowd.” Hirschfield said. “And even during the boos, it was more of an over-excited confidence rather than animosity.”
Despite the celebratory atmosphere at the inauguration, Hirschfield was critical of anti-Trump protesters “who took to the streets smashing windows, flipping trash cans and newspaper boxes, starting fires and destroying vehicles.”
D.C. police arrested more than 200 protesters Friday and charged them with rioting.
James Davis, first-year Engineering student and member of College Republicans, also attended the inauguration.
“I attended the inauguration because I sought to witness a historical event that only happens once every four years,” Davis said. “The peaceful transition of power that this country has been able to complete for over 250 years is astonishing and is something to be celebrated.”
Like Hirschfeld, Davis said the atmosphere at the inauguration was positive.
“There were two especially amazing moments,” Davis said. “One was the moment President Trump was sworn in. Strangers hugged, the crowd cheered and excitement and hope filled the air.”
Davis said he was also amazed when the crowd began to sing the national anthem with singer Jackie Evancho.
“Hearing thousands of people sing something that we had all believed in, with the pride of patriotism that filled our hearts at that exact moment was something truly unforgettable,” Davis said.
Brett Curtis, third-year Curry student and president of the University Democrats, did not attend the inauguration and expressed a different opinion regarding Trump’s elevation to the presidency.
“The University Democrats have always valued diversity, inclusion and working with our peers and allies across U.Va. and Charlottesville,” Curtis said. “President Trump and the Republican Party have thus far failed to even attempt to unite our divided country.”
The University Democrats launched the “100 Days Initiative,” which Curtis said is a way for students to get involved in the political process. The initiative is a list of 100 concrete actions for those who oppose “the Trump administration’s lack of compassion and understanding.”
“Trump has his plan for the first 100 days,” Curtis said. “UDems has our own. Over the next 100 days, the University Democrats will work to provide ample opportunities to complete all of these actions for those who wish to do so.”
Curtis said he is scared about how President Trump will impact the Affordable Care Act, the legality of gay marriage, social security and public schools.
“There are so many questions that cannot be answered in 140 characters and I personally do not feel that I’ll be ‘winning’ any time soon under a President Trump,” Curtis said.
During Trump’s first few hours in office he signed several executive orders including one to “ease the burdens” of Obamacare and two authorizing James Mattis as defense secretary and John Kelly as homeland security secretary.