WKU goes to Washington

Patrons wave flags at the National Mall as President Barack Obama was introduced at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.

Joanna Williams

Being in Bowling Green didn’t stop a group of more than 40 students, professors and members of the community to board a charter bus and make the 14-hour drive to Alexandria, Va., to see President Barack Obama be inaugurated into office this past weekend.

Alexandria, a town only a metro ride away from D.C., was where the group stayed for their three-day trip to D.C.

The trip was organized and led by Political Science Department Head Saundra Ardrey.

Ardrey has led a trip to the presidential inauguration every four years since 1989 and said it gives students the opportunity to “come together and be united.”

Aside from being able to explore the city for three days, travelers were able to do it at a cheaper rate than many other people traveling for the weekend.

The trip’s cost was $550, though items such as food and inaugural ball tickets were left up to each respective traveler to pay for.

“They were spending $375 for housing, and that was at a regular Holiday Inn,” Ardrey said.

Ardrey said this was a great price because most rooms in the city were going for $2,000.

Franklin, Tenn., senior Haley Mefford said she came on the trip because she wanted to travel during the January term, and she had never been to D.C. before.

“The price was why I decided to come,” she said. “Being a college student, it was a great experience to travel rather cheaply.”

Ardrey said the amount of people making the trip was much less this time around than in 2008.

“Last time was nowhere near as crowded as four years ago,” Ardrey said. “Other than the crowd being smaller, it was the same.”

According to the Associated Press, there were many people at this year’s inauguration, but probably less than the estimated 1.8 million who attended the event in 2009.

“Last time we could have brought two busses, and this time I could hardly fill one,” she said.

She estimated she had brought about 90 people with her last time. This time 41 people made the trip.

Ardrey said that the members of the group were able to get tickets for the inauguration from their senators such as Mitch McConnell.

Besides getting the chance to see the inauguration, the students had ample free time throughout the trip to explore D.C. as well as have a photo opportunity and meet and greet with Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky.

Louisville senior Lauren Snider said she appreciated the free time and used it to see as much of D.C as she possibly could.

“The bus ride was long, but as long as we get to see the stuff on the screen, that’s what I came for,” Snider said.

Mefford said she enjoyed Obama’s inauguration speech as well as the inauguration itself.

“It was very hopeful and patriotic,” she said. “I think he’s very optimistic for our country. He knows he will only be president for another four years, but he wants to do things that will last for 400 more years, like he said.”

Obama’s second inauguration has had news commentators speculate that there would be less excitement for the 2013 inauguration than there was in 2009, and though the excitement from his first inauguration would be hard pressed to outdo, Snider said the excitement for all the possibilities for Obama’s second term hasn’t went away.

“There is the same amount of time for change,” she said. “His being the first African American president has rubbed off, but not the excitement for change.”