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Students and Faculty Share Election Night Excitement

By Danielle Charette ’14


Will Duncan ’13 was one of many students who joined the shared Election Night experience in Trotter Hall. Photo by Alden Dirks ’16

The evening of Nov. 6, laptops, dorm televisions, and classroom projectors all aired one thing: election coverage. The presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew to a close, with Swarthmore students and faculty gathering in common areas to hear the news. One such viewing space, the third floor of Trotter Hall, became a popular venue due to the presence of political science professors, hoagies, and big-screen TVs.

Cynthia Halpern, chair of the political science department, was sure students and professors were in for a long night. She conceded that this election was “not as groundbreaking” as 2008, but that didn’t stop dozens of students from flocking to Trotter. While Halpern raced over to switch the channel to NBC, Associate Professor of Political Science Keith Reeves ’88 added a solemn prediction. “More gridlock,” he sighed. Guessing the night would culminate in a tight popular vote, Reeves said, “Everything liberals have said about George W. Bush, will be aimed at Obama.”

Arjun Vishwanath ’16 remarked, “No matter your political affiliation, people are genuinely excited to see the potential for change in America.”

Students and professors exchanged thoughts on the Massachusetts Senate race, referenda in their home states, and the morning’s major newspaper editorials. Eager students loaded baked goods on red, white, and blue paper plates.

By 10:30 p.m., anyone standing north of Parrish Hall could hear students cheering. The networks called Wisconsin for Obama, and New Hampshire and Minnesota followed suit.

As results trickled in, Yuan Qu ’14, camera in hand, saw election night as the perfect opportunity to film the scene for her Visual Anthropology class.

“Our film crew was looking at how watching the results was a collective social experience and a deeply individual and personal one,” she said.

Across the way in Kohlberg Hall, the newly active Swarthmore Conservatives bit their lips as CNN showed the Florida vote totals growing closer. Before midnight, it was clear Obama had earned a second term.

Tyler Becker ’14, who had interned with the Romney campaign since before the New Hampshire primaries, admitted the result was a “personal disappointment.” The next day, he reflected, “Now that the election is over, I plan to explore more conservative literature and philosophical ideas to better articulate my own conservative viewpoint. Ideas are the key to a conservative renewal.”

Election season has passed, but Swarthmore students are as ready as ever to swap ideas and solutions.

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