WKU students to attend inauguration

Tyler Prochazka

Every four years, crowds gather in the cold to see the president of the United States sworn in by the chief justice in one of the biggest political celebrations in America. WKU will not be left out of the party.

From Jan. 20 through Jan. 23, WKU students and faculty will travel to Washington, D.C. to witness Barack Obama’s inauguration and tour the city. Students can still apply to attend the trip.


Saundra Ardrey, Political Science department head, is organizing the event. She said she hopes more students will sign up and take the opportunity to go to the inauguration.

“It’s your opportunity to participate in the democratic process,” Ardrey said.

Ardrey said WKU students and faculty have been attending presidential inaugurations since 1989. In 2008 for Obama’s first inauguration, WKU brought around 65 students. Currently, the group has about 20 students.

Ardrey attributes the lower participation to a higher cost, from $450 to $550, and lower enthusiasm for Obama’s second term. Due to the higher cost, Ardrey said she is willing to work out a payment plan for students.

“I don’t want cost to be the reason students don’t go,” Ardrey said.

Graduate student Timothy Gilliam, who is helping Ardrey organize the trip, said while he did not vote for Obama, he is still excited to attend the inauguration.

“Regardless of your partisan affiliation, the inauguration is an event that should bring together people from all different backgrounds,” Gilliam said.

While in D.C., the group will participate in several other events and activities in addition to attending the inauguration. The group will also attend a meeting with Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as well as U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie.

According to Ardrey, there will be several inaugural balls, including youth inaugural balls, which the group can attend. Ardrey has met every president since George H. W. Bush at the inaugural balls, except Obama, although Ardrey had met Obama on a separate occasion. However, she said she wants to see him at an inaugural ball this time.

Louisville sophomore Diana Vela, who is also helping Ardrey organize the trip, said she does not plan to go to the inaugural balls, but is excited to go the inauguration.

“I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go,” Vela said.

The Student Government Association has donated $1,500 to help pay for the bus to attend the event, and is willing to provide scholarships to students who will attend, according to Ardrey.

SGA President Cory Dodds said SGA is encouraging students going on the inauguration trip to apply for the organization’s Scholar Development Grant next semester. If students receive the grant, they will be reimbursed for a portion of the trip later in the spring semester.

“I just think that it’s an excellent opportunity for students because…it’s something that not everyone has the ability to do,” Dodds said.

Gilliam said he thinks students should utilize this time in college while they have more time to go see this event and that the inauguration shows how the country can come together.

“The inauguration is a good representation of what our country should be about,” Gilliam said.