University News

Students storm onto Main Green

By
Friday, November 7, 2008
Correction appended.

Click here to view “Main Green jubilance: A post-election slideshow”

Many Brown students had waited nearly two years for this.

President-elect Obama swept the West Coast around 11 p.m. last night, essentially clinching the 44th presidency and propelling hundreds of exuberant students onto the Main Green. They sang the national anthem, shot hand-held firecrackers and raised a flapping Obama banner at the south end of the Green. About 15 even stripped down to show their support for the Democratic candidate, who won the election in a landslide.

Around midnight, as Obama began his acceptance speech, students left the Green, ran up Thayer Street and stormed onto Pembroke College.

Earlier in the night, students watched election results come in from dorms and auditoriums across campus. Some circled quietly around projectors at a faculty fellow event and around laptops in dorm rooms, while others waited in Smith-Buonanno 106. Hundreds filled the Salomon Center before spilling onto the Green as an Obama presidency became a reality.

Though he could not vote, Johnny Prah ’12 of Ghana gathered with 11 others at a Faculty Fellow event in the living room of Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry William Suggs’ home on Benevolent Street and quietly watched states turn red and blue.

Zola Jenness ’10 joined the Organization of United African Peoples in a mostly full Smith-Buonanno 106, which was decked in red, white and blue balloons and streamers.

Andrew Wong ’10, whose face was adorned with painted stars and stripes, arrived in Salomon 101 early to stake out a seat at the campus’s main event. “Not to sound like Captain America, but I think this is one of the greatest moments in American history,” he said.

The energy mounted as Salomon slowly filled with students toting popcorn, ice cream, textbooks and laptops. Cheers erupted each time Obama was reported ahead of McCain in a state, no matter the actual percentages being reported. “That’s for 2000, bitches!” a student yelled when CNN showed the Illinois senator ahead in Florida at 8:20 p.m.

As CNN’s focus moved westward, Obama supporters’ confidence in the room seemed to grow. Ohio went to Obama at around 9:30 p.m. to the loudest celebration yet. “I’m naming my first-born child ‘Ohio,'” Derek Vance ’12 quipped.

Eric Axelman ’12 took off his shirt and swung it around his head, later telling The Herald he believed that the election was over at that point. Lee Stevens ’12 said she had been “contemplating moving to Canada” if Obama didn’t win, but that the awarding of Ohio assuaged her fears.

Raphaela Lipinsky Degette ’11, one of the organizers with the Brown Democrats, who sponsored the Salomon event, said she was ready to get some sleep after 11 hours of phone banking. Still, she said she was left “speechless” by the incoming results.

The Brown Republicans only occupied a few seats near the front of the crowded auditorium. The group’s president, Herald columnist Sean Quigley ’10, said he was “a little pessimistic” heading into the broadcast. Republicans in Rhode Island will have to focus on local races, he added.

“I’m thinking it will be fun to be in His Excellency’s opposition,” Quigley said, as it became more evident that Obama would win.

As electoral votes were given away state-by-state, CNN analysts went through the scenario it would take for McCain to pull out a win. On their feet, students packing the room counted down the final seconds before five western states, including California, would be announced, clinching the victory. When the results were read, students erupted with cheers of “U-S-A” and “O-ba-ma.”

Salomon’s crowd then spilled onto the Main Green, and those who had been watching from their dorms ran to join. Hundreds of students rushed to the south end of the Green around the flagpole, where students held the American flag above the crowd and later raised a giant “Change” banner into the air.

“It’s a new era,” said Nicole Damari ’12. “We can be proud to be Americans again.”

Click here to view “Main Green jubilance: A post-election slideshow”

Because of an editing error, an article in Wednesday’s Herald (“Students storm onto Main Green,” Nov. 5) referred to President-elect Barack Obama as an Arizona senator. Obama represents Illinois in the Senate.