By Lizzie Willsmore-Finkle ‘19
The morning of January 20th dawned dark and overcast, the large, ugly raindrops dragging down the shoes of students on their way to classes while the knowledge of a new administration weighed heavily on everyone’s minds. At 9:00 am Pacific Time, President- Elect Donald Trump was sworn into office by Chief Justice Roberts, while at that same moment, 5C students hustled through the flooded sidewalks and courtyards to conclude the first official week of classes.
For the Claremont Colleges, the road to inauguration day has been one filled with every emotion possible: fear, apprehension, anger, numbness, and anything and everything in between. Even still, dorm door whiteboards bear the remnants of #notmypresident posters that have pervaded campus since the morning of November 9th. In fact, the morning of the big day itself, many students chose to forgo watching the inauguration, opting instead to focus their energies on preparing for the Women’s March: L.A. the following morning.
While Trump’s inaugural address focused mainly on restoring democratic power to the citizens, his actions mere hours after taking office suggested a different agenda. In his speech, Trump highlighted the importance of national unity, stressing that the beginning of his presidency marked the moment American citizens took the government back from the 1% in Washington. Yet, mere hours after reciting the oath of office, Trump signed an executive order instructing health and human service employees to limit any monetary im positions that the Affordable Care Act may have on taxpayers – a move which, while not incredibly impactful, makes clear that top of the Trump Administration’s to-do list is repealing the ACA.
As inauguration day continued and concluded in Washington, the scene in Claremont was starkly different to its usual pace.
While many students did not watch the inauguration, the campus still retained a kind of hushed apprehension, which was only heightened by the torrential downpour that would last well into the next week. Conversations across campus remained mostly focused on the unusual weather, but sprinkled between were plans for transportation into L.A. for the Women’s March the next day. In contrast to the utter shock pervading campus the morning of November 9th, Inauguration Day vibes were angry, uncertain and above all else, charged with a call to action.
For some students, who remember the swell of hope on inauguration day of 2008, this year’s peaceful transition of power was distinctly different. According to Paloma Nakamura ’20, “in 2008 there were more feelngs of excitement and hope and that feeling was completely absent from this inaugura tion day. A lot of people phrase it as a new beginning, and this was not that. I don’t think people want to give it a try.”
Perhaps the most telling account of inauguration day came from international student Sreileak Hour ’20, who stated, “I’m really impressed but in a negative way. First about the election and how Trump could win and how divisive Americans are because I have no view of what it’s like out there besides school. [I] feel more hope during the inauguration by how much women and even men really care about the country. There are marches everywhere and I’m very impressed by those and countries who did the same.” Hour also asserted “I didn’t feel as bad as Americans did because my experience [at home] was even worse.”
Her words strike an eerie tone for these first few days post-inauguration; one of warning and of hope. Inauguration Day was a sobering reality check, one wherein those in denial of a Trump presidency could no longer turn a blind eye, and those who have committed to resisting vowed to continue with renewed fervor. Hour’s reminder that it could always be worse encapsulates the main lesson of Inauguration Day: we can’t let it reach that point.
Now more than ever is a moment for standing behind those who are most vulnerable and for resisting the white supremacy which now holds counsel in the Oval Office.
For Scripps and the rest of the Claremont Colleges, Inauguration Day was a reminder that a march isn’t enough. If we aren’t willing to become an active participant, whether by volunteering for on and off campus organizations or lobbying senators and congressional representatives, then it will get worse than it already is. January 20th, 2017, will serve as reminder to the Scripps community and the broader 5C community that we must retain our promise to resist, to remember that Water is Life, to remember that Black Lives Matter, to remember that being female isn’t all about reproductive organs, to remember that no life is illegal, to remember that Muslim lives matter, and that above all else, we are stronger together. Because if we forget that, even for a moment, it can and it will get worse.