Faculty leads students on inauguration trip

Madison Martin

On an overcast Friday in the nation’s capital, certain WKU students had the opportunity to experience a presidential inauguration and surrounding political events for the first time.

Political Science Department Head Saundra Ardrey, led a group of students and faculty to Washington D.C. for a short trip to experience the historical event. She has been doing so since 1989, according to a press release.

The students arrived in the city Wednesday night and were gone by Saturday morning. The group visited the Capitol the day prior to the presidential inauguration, scoping out different politicians’ offices and meeting with some of Kentucky’s federal representatives Senator Rand Paul and Representative Brett Guthrie.

But WKU wasn’t solely represented by the faculty-led group, as some students decided to experience the weekend on their own.

Andi Dahmer, a Louisville sophomore, traveled to the capital with her brother to be a part of the presidential inauguration and Women’s March on Washington. The pair took an early flight to arrive right at the beginning of the ceremony, and return to Bowling Green just in time for class on Monday.

“It was like the ultimate sibling-bonding weekend, for sure,” Dahmer said.

Some students attended the inauguration ceremony on Friday, while others joined the ranks of protesters in the parade route.

Kara Hodges, a junior from Bowling Green and participant in the faculty-led group, said she decided to make the best of the trip despite not being a fan of the election results. Instead of attending the inauguration, she accompanied one of the peaceful protest movements during the day. Security checkpoints to access the parade took hours to get through, Hodges said.

“I think it was [a valuable experience] because a bunch of us like stood up for what we believed in, and we peacefully used our First Amendment, which some of us had never done before,” Hodges said.

Dahmer, in contrast, stood in a non-ticketed area to view the ceremony. She noticed a divisive undercurrent flowing around her, where Trump-supporters and opposing college students had gathered within the same vicinity.

“I know that it was a little tense with the people surrounding me, just with the differences in political beliefs,” Dahmer said.

The contrasting atmosphere stood out to her when she participated in the Women’s March on Washington the following day. She described the march as “incredible” and said the “whole day sort of felt like a hug.”

“You almost felt like an instant connection when you were talking with people,” Dahmer said. “Just because like you’re there in solidarity, and you’re standing up for the rights of an entire gender.”

When summing up the trip, the two were glad to have participated in the nationally-significant day and weekend, regardless of how they viewed the new president.

“It’s just cool because there’s not a lot of people that go to inaugurations, and there’s not very many inaugurations that happen,” Hodges said.

“It’s really like a phenomenal experience, even if you don’t necessarily agree with the politician who’s being inaugurated,” Dahmer agreed. “It’s just a really cool thing to experience, like that history aspect of it.”

Reporter Madison Martin can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @missmadielaine.