Campus weighs pros and cons of Obama’s victory

The Daily Illini

UI student supporters of President-elect Barack Obama celebrate around the Alma Mater by opening bottles of champagne, Tuesday night in Champaign, Ill. For more photos and video from the celebration on campus, log on to Erica Magda

By Alison Lacey

As with every presidential election there is a winning side, a losing side and an in-between.

There is also the question, what exactly is going to happen to us as a nation, or, on a smaller scale, as a University? This election has been no exception.

Many students are ready for President-elect Barack Obama to take office.

“Green Street was like a block party Tuesday night,” said Claire Johnson, junior in ACES.

Johnson, who voted absentee, said that most people she knew were very happy about Obama’s victory Tuesday night, including herself.

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“I was very excited. And hopeful,” she said.

Obama’s victory was not much of a surprise, said Thomas Rudolph, associate professor of political science at the University. However, he added that at this point it is hard to determine what Obama’s victory means in terms of fixing current problems. As to whether Obama’s office will be able to help the economy or increase college funding, the answers to these questions are still unclear.

“Obama is for increasing opportunities (for students) to go to college and making student loans more accessible,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph added that the current problems with the economy need to take first priority. University endowment is determined by state funding, and the economy needs to heal before other goals like University funding can take action.

“A lot of priorities may have to go on the back burner for a little bit,” Rudolph said. “Not that they’re not going to happen, but they probably won’t happen right away.”

Others are not so optimistic. Emily Hardy, a sophomore in AHS, said that it was an all right turnout for the election and was more enthusiastic about the regional candidates in her home town of Peoria, Ill.

“It was anticlimactic,” Hardy said in reference to the presidential election. “I felt the general populous was voting for a popularity contest rather than for policy.”

Hardy said that with looking at the former candidates, there is in fact very little difference between John McCain and Obama’s policies.

“McCain and Obama are more or less the same,” she said, “even though McCain could use some work on his public speaking skills.”

Hardy said she was surprised that after an entire campaign, neither of the candidates clearly stated what exactly he planned to do after taking office.

“Change frightens me,” Hardy said laughingly.

Under that pretext, it is fortunate that Hardy expects little actual change to occur with Obama in office. She said that she thinks for the most part the current state of affairs in the country is here to stay.

Rudolph said that until the economy improves, many unresolved issues in the country are going to remain unresolved, and that it is too early to make any definitive predictions about any kind of drastic change to come. Though many students remain hopeful in light of Obama’s victory Tuesday night, change will only come with time, Rudolph said, so there is nothing to do but wait and see.