Not Just a Regular Wednesday in D.C.

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ava Compagnoni (

January 20th was not just the first day of classes for Ursinus students, but a day that will go down in history because Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Biden took the oath of office as well as the helm of a deeply divided nation, declaring that “democracy has prevailed.” At age 78, he is the oldest president inaugurated. There was also a spotlight on Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black person, and person of South Asian descent to become vice-president, and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

Many students preparing for their first day of classes had to balance their schedule with the Inauguration ceremony. Throughout Reimert, family units gathered together in their common rooms to watch history unfold, as I am sure many family units in other residence halls did as well. Throughout the day, students kept a close eye on the inauguration, many allowing their televisions to run continuously. Perhaps the most memorable moment was 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman. Students and professors across campus were taken aback by the power of Gorman’s poem, The Hill We Climb. Drawing on sources ranging from biblical scripture to the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and her own experiences, Gorman created images of dire and triumphant moments through our country’s history.

No doubt Bernie Sanders made a new name for himself as he became the most popular meme on social media for the following week. Reaching across platform after platform, creating a lightheartedness in media, a fresh breath of air among the somber updates of COVID-19 and the siege on the U.S. Capitol. Bernie and his mittens were even photoshopped on the Ursinus Admissions Instagram!

Julianna Berardi ’21 kept her attention on her television on the 20th. Berardi was lucky enough not to have classes on Wednesdays, and so was able to fully focus on the ceremony. “I thought the ceremony had a lot of really key aspects that show Biden-Harris’ commitment to change, like the mentioning of how long the plight of racism has taken place, or to the promise of addressing climate change. Amanda Gorman’s poem was strikingly beautiful and resilient, inspiring many to look forward for what’s to come, while making sure accountability and justice are served from the past. I personally felt hopeful and rejuvenated watching it,” says Berardi. 

  Claire Velte ’23 relates her two years of political science studies to the historical event that took place on the 20th. “As a student in political science and International Relations at Ursinus, watching the inauguration was a perfect opportunity for me to experience political history firsthand. Analyzing the inauguration in an academic setting … was also a great opportunity because it facilitated some really thought-provoking conversations about US partisanship between students of differing views,” says Velte.

As January comes to an end, the best we can do as a united community is look out for each and listen to one another to learn and grow together. 

Photo credit to The Associated Press and Andrew Harnick