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Election Night at Gettysburg College

November 8, 2012

Liz Oberg ’15

Starting at 6:00 a.m. they were out there braving the cold outside the College Union Building: the few, the brave, the volunteers. They stood outside the polling place all day until it closed at 8:00 p.m. Meanwhile, in classes and around campus, students were talking only about the election. Momentary conversations about television shows, parties and sports halted, and students donned their buttons and shirts to show their support for “their” candidate. Professors offered their opinions and memories of elections past and no one could escape the onslaught of “election coverage” on Facebook and Twitter.

Being on a college campus during an election is the best place to be. Students from different states and countries can offer their perspective on the candidates, and being in Pennsylvania, which was thrown into the battleground category at the last minute, made this election even better. Also, this is the first election most students have been able to vote in, raising the stakes even higher.

The Eisenhower Institute sponsored a party that went on until midnight. The mood and atmosphere could not be matched. Students often stopped mid-sentence in conversation to hear the latest projection and ran up to the jumbo map on the wall to color the states as they were called for each candidate.

Just as fifty pizza pies were delivered at 9:00 p.m. the mood shifted at the election night party. Several states had already been called and reality started to set in: this campaign was finally coming to a close. Students hunched over their computers, refreshing news sites and shouting out when a new state was called. The crowd was split fairly evenly along party lines, which made for great conversation. As the hours passed, the room remained packed with excitement and passion.

Finally at 11:00 p.m. the call was made, “We can project Barack Obama as the winner,” and the room went wild. The six-foot tall cardboard cutouts of the President were hugged as students called home to celebrate or commiserate with their parents. This event really showed how important this election was for students and young people. Everyone was involved on some level.

Yesterday morning on campus it seems as though the conversation about the election is over. Although the night before was exciting for all, few people care to continue talking about the drawn out campaign. As interested as students were, there was a joint sigh of relief that the people made their choice and that the election is over.

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