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Student group plans visit to presidential inauguration

A group of Mills College women hope to be in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20 2009, when Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States.

A group of approximately 15 women have gathered together in an Inaugural Committee to fundraise, find housing and get event tickets for the Inauguration, whose theme is “A New Birth of Freedom.”

Tracy Peerson and Amber Williams, who are spearheading the committee, say they were inspired while watching election night results in the Student Union on Nov. 4.

“I don’t think I even thought about going to the inauguration until election night,” said Peerson, a senior. “Daphne Muse talked about tickets, and how she was going and I thought her talk was pretty inspiring. I felt like maybe if we moved quick enough to organize, it could be a reality.”

The committee has divided into several sub-committees in order to make the work of fundraising easier. The group hopes to be housed by various Washington D.C.-area alumni and intend to find free events where thousands of other students will be gathering.

Williams, a junior, stresses that the purpose of the trip is not only to attend the main event, but also to share what they see. She said the inauguration is a historical event that they want to bring back to the Mills community. “We want to report back to those at school who couldn’t go,” she said.

Each member of the contingent must contribute $250 of their own money for a downpayment, and contribute to fundraising efforts. Commitment to attending three inauguration events with the other members of the Mills contingency is also required.

Junior Ashley Grant is a member of the contingency who describes herself as helping “anywhere that’s needed” on the committee. As for the $250 down payment?

“It’s going to be my Christmas present,” she says.

State senators and representatives are given a limited number of free tickets to the inauguration itself. Peerson said she has not heard back whether they have gotten tickets or not. Regardless, she said they plan to be in Washington to take part in some of the 10 days of festivities. Also planned is a trip to the Holocaust Museum.

Williams hopes the trip brings together all the optimistic feelings that ran through the country on election night.

“I’m hoping to experience a feeling of celebration. I really hope to go there and be inspired,” she said.

Peerson, on the other hand, said she looks forward to being able to commemorate President Obama’s swearing in ceremony without thinking about Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. She said its passing was a crushing defeat.

“It’s a way for me to go and fully celebrate,” she said.

The theme of this year’s inauguration comes from a line in the Gettysburg Address, and coincides with 2009 being the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.