With President Biden Inaugurated, Divergent Opinions at UChicago

Students and political science professors at UChicago offered a range of opinions on Joe Biden’s inauguration.


By Roshini Balan, Contributor

Following an insurrection at the Capitol and impeachment proceedings in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, student and faculty reactions to President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 ranged from skepticism to relief.

First-year Hayden Flaskerud described the relief he felt seeing Biden’s inauguration.

“From the moment Biden stepped on the podium, he felt presidential. Biden feels like a true leader who followed both his personal ideals and those of the American people,” Flaskerud said. “It was refreshing to feel respected once again.”

Third-year Chase Leito was less optimistic, saying that the President and Vice President’s careers were morally disagreeable.

“We can’t ignore their histories…as senators and as legislators,” he said. “They have perpetuated violence in the communities they represented.”

Political science professor William Howell focused on Trump’s behavior during the final weeks of his administration.

“Most obviously, there’s this irony that a president who wraps up his presidency by starting an insurrection…kind of naively calls out, ‘stop the violence,’” Howell said. “It speaks to the lack of, really, any convictions that this president has when he talks about being a law and order president.”

Political science professor Susan Stokes said she was dismayed by the increased security in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day. “The obvious way in which the insurrection at the Capitol changed it was the huge presence of the National Guard and whatnot—that’s not what you should see in the nation’s capital,” Stokes said.

Second-year Ally Stevanovich described what it meant to her not only to see Biden get inaugurated, but also to watch a woman take federal executive office for the first time in U.S. history. “Watching Vice President Kamala Harris get inaugurated felt right. I felt like seven-year-old me, who got told by boys that a woman could never be in a position of power, [would be] extremely happy and proud.”

First-year Alena Pedroza was also excited by the Vice President’s inauguration, seeing it as a sign of a more tolerant and diverse future. “In seeing Vice President Kamala Harris elected, it makes me hopeful that we are headed down an unprecedented path filled with limitless possibilities for women and men alike, of any race or religion,” she said.

First-year Ade Osadolor said the inauguration restored her faith in the future of the country. “This inauguration makes me believe that unity can still be achieved despite our different, divergent beliefs and political views.”