On Inauguration Day morning, the USC Annenberg Center (CCLP) and the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics co-hosted an informal viewing of Donald J. Trump's swearing-in as the 45th President of the United States.
More than 40 students and faculty braved time-zone differences and early morning rain to gather in Wallis Annenberg Hall. Leading up to the oaths, Bob Shrum, the Unruh Institute Director, CCLP Director Geoffrey Cowan, Justin Wallin, with Probolsky Research, and audience members participated in a wide-ranging discussion forecasting Trump’s speech and the possibility of protest. Across the country, USC Annenberg professor Robert Hernandez and a group of Annenberg student journalists were in Washington creating multi-platform coverage of the Inauguration using text, social media and virtual reality. One of the students, Sarah Collins, provided the audience with live updates of reactions from the crowd from Washington, D.C. via video.
"This is truly an event of importance to USC... not just as citizens... but because we teach about this, we think about it, we study it,” Cowan said.
Journalism professor Judy Muller said she was interested in not only seeing what the protesters would be doing today but also how Trump would deliver his inaugural speech.
“One commentator said “I want to hear how many times he says ‘I’ and how many times he says ‘we,’” Muller said. “This is unusual. Everyone is disappointed when their person doesn’t win, it happened after Bush and it happened after Reagan and happens every time and the losers go “oh well.” This feels different.”
Shrum said the Inauguration would be Donald Trump’s best chance to retool his image in the eyes of the nation.
“Judy mentioned the word ‘I’ versus the word ‘we.’ I believe in JFK’s inaugural address, he used the word “I” once,” Schrum said before Trump’s inaugural speech. “If he could get to that tone, it could make a difference.”
After the oaths and speeches from the new President and Vice President, the crowd's reactions reflected the full range of America's responses, with some students still stunned Trump had become President, while others indicated they supported the former real estate mogul.
USC student Hana Huang, (International Relations ‘20) was too young to vote in 2008 when Barack Obama became President. But, as a college student, she wanted to watch history being made.
“I feel confused and scared. I’m really sad about Obama,” Huang said. “I wish I paid more attention to his policies and his eight years in office. I was pretty young when he first came into office and he did a lot of great things and I should have paid attention. Now that he’s leaving, I’m a little bit shocked.”
Others students supported the 45th President.
“I’m very happy with who is being inaugurated,” Rex Alley (Political Science ‘19) said before the oath and speech. “I’m a member of the College Republicans and hopefully I think we can send the country back in the right direction. I’m a little nervous about any violence happening in D.C. but I think everything will probably be fine.”
View the video of the event on Facebook Live: