Little enthusiasm at Penn as 1968 grad becomes president
At the University of Pennsylvania, Friday's rain fit the mood. Inside the Wharton School, it was hard to find anyone thrilled that Donald Trump, an alumnus, was about to assume the highest office in the United States.
At the University of Pennsylvania, Friday's rain fit the mood.
Inside the Wharton School, it was hard to find anyone thrilled that Donald Trump, an alumnus, was about to assume the highest office in the United States.
"There's a strong sense of disassociation," said Christina Engebretson, an M.B.A. student from Atlanta.
Another student described the mood as "a little bit somber."
Even Penn's interim president of the College Republicans voted for Hillary Clinton.
"He was not my choice for president, but I wish him well," said Ryan Snyder, 19, a mathematical economics major from Monmouth County, N.J.
Snyder said some members of the College Republicans boarded a bus early Friday to the inauguration. He had planned to go, but an obligation came up, so he said he would watch it alone.
"I do support his presidency now," Snyder said. "I hope to see conservative policy pursued, and I think it will be. I think it's a good year for Republican politics, and it will be an interesting year for Donald Trump."
Yet thousands of Wharton students, faculty and alumni signed an anti-Trump letter. The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper, reported that Penn president Amy Gutmann declined repeatedly to comment on Trump.
So proud? Penn seems not.
"It almost feels like people are trying not to think about it," said Vishnu Rachakonda, 20, a bioengineering and political science major from Greenbelt, Md.
Most students went about their day, attending class, he said.
At the Perry World House on Locust Walk, TVs played the inauguration inside a lounge area. They were sparsely attended.
Rachakonda stopped by to watch. He cited "a pretty crazy difference" between Trump's speech and the two prior inaugural speeches of President Obama.
Obama's "were a lot of inspiration about America," he said. "This speech was so much about the depressing state that we're in, how Mr. Trump thinks what he is going to do is going to save us, not that we have an irrepressible national character that's going to get us through."
Zach Hamdi, 19, a sophomore, said he was surprised to find his heart pounding as Trump addressed the nation.
"I got the distinct sense that I was watching the beginning of the end for the first time," said the international relations major from Boston.
He said he stopped in to watch because he wanted to be a witness to history.
"I'm still an American. He's still my president," Hamdi said.
Other students were so turned off they said they wouldn't watch. "I'm disgusted, horrified," said Ian Fiedler, 21, a senior psychology major from Moorestown.
Engebretson, 26, the Atlanta student and finance and organizational effectiveness major, said she also was disappointed and disheartened.
"But I feel like it's a great time to be at Wharton, where I am surrounded by highly accomplished and well-grounded peers who make me feel more optimistic about my future despite my apprehension about the next four years," she said.