ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – “As an aspiring physician, I am most worried about Donald Trump’s plan, or lack thereof, regarding healthcare,” sophomore biology major Colleen Corrado said Saturday after returning from more than a week in Washington, D.C.
Corrado was one of 11 St. Bonaventure University students who had the opportunity to attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump as part of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Program conducted by the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington. Dr. Danette Brickman, chair of the SBU political science department, accompanied the students.
Two of the other students in the group attending the Osgood program expressed unease with the new administration. During a Jan. 19 podcast with Dr. Richard A. Lee, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication, senior political science major JW Cook and junior philosophy major Keegan Miller reported that overwhelming feelings of uncertainty clouded the nation’s capital.
Cook remarked that while it is traditional for U.S. citizens to witness the transition of power from one administration to another, this one is “completely different” in the sense that people are unsure if Donald Trump’s presidency will truly reflect his plans.
“There’s just a lot of uncertainty in terms of everyone that we’ve spoken with – whether it be cab drivers or people working on the Hill as staffers,” said Cook.
Miller added, “Everybody that we came into contact with was very open to giving us advice, talking to us and answering any questions that we had.”
During their time in Washington, the St. Bonaventure group met with former Senate Historian Donald Ritchie. “He really has no idea where the administration is going to go or even how the inauguration is going to go or anything to follow,” Miller said.
Cook noted that staffers said “word on the Hill is maybe impeachment; maybe he’s a two or three-year president with a resignation.”
Five days before the inauguration, the St. Bonaventure group toured the capital. And some of them also witnessed the dress rehearsal for the inauguration. Cook recalled hearing “Hail to the Chief” and the National Anthem over the speakers.
Cook and Miller expressed their genuine excitement about taking part in a historical moment. “Politics aside,” Cook said, “it’s a completely different and overwhelming feeling of just, almost awe, that you’re actually standing on such a historic and momentous event that is completely different from anything you’ve ever witnessed before.”
And Miller called their journey “an awesome experience no matter what your political views are.”
On Inauguration Day, the St. Bonaventure group stood on the Mall parallel to the National Museum of the American Indian. “There were not as many people present as I was expecting, but there was an obvious divide between the Trump supporters and the people who came solely to watch a peaceful transition of power occur,” Corrado recalled.
Before departing on Saturday, some of the St. Bonaventure group participated in the Women’s March on Washington.
Corrado described how “hundreds of thousands of people gathered to march for what they believe in. People marched to defend the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBT community, and many other groups. It will surely be difficult for Donald Trump to take away the rights of some of these groups with so much blatant opposition even on his first day in office.”
She added, “I am nervous to see what Trump accomplishes while he is in office, but I am hopeful that the American people can work together peacefully with the President of the United States to bring about positive change in our country.”
Throughout the trip, the students kept a blog and a Facebook page. After the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, the group plans to review its various blog posts and analyze the administration’s progress and also give a public presentation in the spring that will be open to university students, staff and faculty as well as the local community.