Optimism amid the bustle at Boston University


This piece was originally part of an online collection of vignettes from New England about the Inauguration and incoming administration. The print version in The Boston Globe is here

Students settled in front of five televisions in the George Sherman Union at Boston University. The chatter of the nearby food court and groups of students chatting nearly drowned out the inauguration festivities playing.

As Donald Trump placed his hand on the Bible, arms were crossed, brows furrowed, and mouths fell agape.

Raffi Oekasah, 23, who is from Indonesia, was one of a handful of students who watched the ceremony. He leaned toward the screen as Trump began his remarks and used his well-known hand gestures.

Oekasah said hearing Trump speaking negatively about Muslims during the campaign made him afraid to come study in the United States. But he wants to be optimistic about the new president.

“Let’s see what happens next,” he said. “Many people feel that [Trump] is unpredictable, so just be prepared.”

As students shuffled into the GSU to eat or prepare between classes, some glanced up at the screens to see leaders attending the ceremony, but most kept their eyes trained on computers phones, and books.

Nicole Haftel, 18, of Philadelphia, said she checked up on the ceremony on social media but mostly tried to avoid the inauguration.

“I’m very disappointed with the president-elect,” she said. “I hope this is kind of a message to everyone who didn’t vote, that their vote matters.”

Greg Sanders, 18, who is studying business, said that although he does not agree with many of Trump’s policies, he wants to see the president succeed. Sanders, who is from Long Island, N.Y., also voted for Clinton.

“Change is not such a bad thing as long as it’s the right thing,” he said. “As long as [Trump] does a good job, I don’t mind.”


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