After four years of attending St. John’s, I’m proud to say that I have finally witnessed an event that successfully unified and excited hundreds of students on campus.
And, not surprisingly, it had nothing to do with Red Storm sporting events, music concerts at Carnesecca Arena, or unimpressive graduation speakers.
Rather, I witnessed hundreds of students gathering on the Great Lawn late on Nov. 4 to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States – a monumental moment in American history.
I watched the mass of students as they cheered, chanted, and rallied into Council Hall to watch the President-elect deliver his victory speech – and he didn’t disappoint.
His words fueled the crowd and oftentimes could hardly be heard over the roaring applause from students.
I’ve never seen the Queens campus so energized; at the same time, I’ve never had more hope for America.
Coming into election night, I wondered what would happen if Senator McCain were to win. What would it say about our country?
Could America actually reward a candidate like McCain, a politician whose longtime support of deregulation and trickle-down economics so greatly contributed to our recent economic crisis?
What would it have said about our country if we had elected a candidate whose policies were so remarkably similar to President Bush’s, a president whose approval rating sunk to as low as 25 percent in recent months?
But these questions will never have to be answered. With Obama’s decisive win in the Electoral College, and reception of an estimated 52 percent of the popular vote, it is evident that Americans want change – a wide-sweeping and dynamic one.
The only question that remains is a profound one: what does this mean for the future of our country? And the answer, from what I’ve seen, is unity.
Obama’s victory speech addressed the intense divisiveness in American politics over the last decade, and articulated a hope for reaching across the aisle.
“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn,” Obama said, “I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too.”
That call for unity is exactly what our country needs at this point in time and is a sentiment that should be appreciated regardless of your political affiliation or how you may have cast your vote on Nov. 4.
And that unity is precisely what I saw on campus just minutes after the election concluded. Hundreds of students, of various races, ages, and political affiliations, joined together in Council Hall to watch Obama’s historic victory speech.
I saw members of College Democrats, College Republicans, Student Government, Muslim Students Association, and many other organizations all packed under one roof – and it wasn’t during a mandatory organizational congress.
Last year, I criticized students’ and administrators’ interest in politics after 80 students attended the University’s Constitution Day Debate – a rather small number of people for what was labeled as one of the University’s most important politically charged events on campus.
A little over a year later, I find it more than encouraging to see so many members of the St. John’s community rallying together for a political cause. Barack Obama’s ability to energize a campus that, from my experience, is one of the most apathetic ones around, speaks volumes of his ability to unite our nation.
So as the next few weeks roll by, and I continue to think about the significance of this historic election, I’ll undoubtedly start to wonder – what does this mean for our country?
After the uncharacteristic on-campus display I saw on Nov. 4, it’s safe to say we’re in store for a much-needed change.