President Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20 in Washington D.C. Within the first week of his presidency, President Biden signed several executive orders including eliminating private prisons, reversing the 2018 transgender military ban, providing economic relief related to the pandemic, and reversing the Muslim ban. He has also taken key steps by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Elementary education sophomore Paige Riza has felt a heaviness in her chest for the past four years. On the day of Biden’s inauguration, Riza said she felt that weight lifted off her shoulders.
“I just hope Biden’s presidency will help us take a big, deep breath,” Riza said.
Prior to Biden’s inauguration, Riza hoped for changes like rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. She was pleasantly surprised that Biden reversed many of Trump’s previous orders and made some strong stances with his executive orders and actions within his first week of the presidency.
“What I’m hoping to see is kind of what I have already seen,” Riza said.
Riza said the inauguration was the first time she felt proud to be American.
“Even though he’s not perfect, I feel like I can proudly stand by Biden,” she said.
Riza said she felt as though many individuals experienced a similar release of pressure on the day Biden became president — especially those in marginalized groups.
“I feel like people are a little more comfortable in their own skin, and I just hope with Biden’s presidency that becomes normal,” Riza said.
Environmental engineering senior Colin Barger was among those individuals.
As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, they have had to face discrimination throughout their life and at Cal Poly. Barger said that the last administration lacked leadership and morals which created an environment where members of the LGBTQ+ community could not feel comfortable.
With Biden’s presidency, Barger feels as if the environment has shifted.
“There’s compassion behind it that hasn’t been there,” Barger said.
Barger loved watching Amanda Gorman, the youngest known inaugural poet, perform on Inauguration morning in part because she is so young.
“I love to see that they are bringing in youth, especially with Biden being older. That is an important message that is empowering younger people to bring their voices and make them heard,” they said.
Barger was impressed at what Biden has accomplished during his first week of the presidency.
“Even what he’s done in the past week has been incredible in terms of organizing and getting protections for coronavirus, but also protections for some minority groups and even acknowledging racial justice issues,” they said.
Engineering sophomore Ben Haering, a member of the pro-life Students For Life club does not agree with Biden’s political ideology.
“He won the election so it’s what the people wanted. I don’t really like his policies, but I have no problem with him being president,” he said.
Haering disagrees with Biden on his pro-choice stance, and he is concerned about Biden’s decision regarding revoking the permit to build the Keystone pipeline. Haering said he is concerned about Americans losing their jobs as a result.
“The things I’d like to see from him I really don’t think would happen because he is ideologically different from me,” he said.
Many Cal Poly students expressed sentiments of hope in their response to Biden’s presidency. Sociology junior Laura Nunes is among those students.
“This presidency serves as a beacon of hope for the country. I think it represents a lot of progress and a return to ‘normal.’” Nunes said.
Nunes found herself getting unexpectedly emotional watching President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris getting sworn into office.
“My favorite part of the inauguration was watching Kamala Harris walk up the steps of the Capitol for the first time as Vice President,” she said. “It was so surreal to see how far we’ve come as a nation and as women.”
However, Nunes said she also felt a sense of fear during the inauguration.
“I felt constantly like I was holding my breath just in case something bad was going to happen or just in case things turn violent like they did at the capitol just a few weeks ago,” she said.
Political science senior and co-president of the Cal Poly Democrats Rob Moore was both excited and cautionary about President Biden’s inauguration. He believes we need to move forward rather than try to go back to “normalcy.”
“It was great as a return to normalcy. I also think it’s a little bit scary that it’s such a return to normalcy,” Moore said. “If we’re trying to go back to something we’re making a huge mistake.”
Moore appreciates the two groundbreaking women entering the White House — Vice President Harris and Dr. Biden.
Moore appreciated Biden’s words addressing racial inequality and climate change at the inauguration.
“Those are really needed sentiments right now, so I appreciate him using words like ‘white supremacy’ and terrorism,” Moore said.
In the following months, Moore hopes to see continued action regarding climate change, immigration reform and racial inequality. He said he also hopes that Biden will be able to bring back respect to the United States democracy.
Note: Mustang News reached out to Cal Poly College Republicans Club, but they did not respond for a comment.