The morning after, euphoria shone through foggy Columbia University's Morningside Heights.
Seconds after news channels declared Barack Obama, CC 83, the 44th president of the United States, the Lions roared. Hundreds of students took to the streets, singing and yelling, prompting police to close Broadway. Cabs and trucks alike united in rhythmic honking. Students congregated on campus to sing The Star Spangled Banner. One local described the erupting din as the seismic roar rising from Harlem above and campus below.
Bleary-eyed after a late night, celebrations continued on campus throughout Wednesday.
I was just so caught up in the moment that I had to re-watch the speeches today, said Vedan Anthony-North, BC 10. I just remember being so incredibly moved.
It was probably best being in New York, said Kelly Fleming, CC 11. It was cooler than Ahmadinejad speaking at our school.
Many professors found creative solutions to maneuver around regulations that prevent preaching politics in the classroom and address the historic event of the day past. Some substituted momentous events for political buzzwords. After the Yankees won the World Series, and the Superbowl happened last night ... I cried, one professor said, while winking. Others simply canceled class.
After wavering over how to address the monumental election, Barnard English professor Monica Miller spent her Harlem Renaissance Literature class discussing the rise of African Americans in American politics. While she intended to come up with different lectures specific to the potential outcomes, Miller admitted that she hadnt come up with a plan B. Lucky for her course plans, Obama won with at least 349 electoral votes.
Obamas victory wasnt just convenient for Millers plans the university is milking Obamas victory for all its worth, despite the candidates reticence to mention his Columbia experience on the trail. The Columbia Web page posted a story about the alumnus victory. Prospective students who had visited campus received an e-mail signed by admissions dean Jessica Marinaccio, saying, Last night, Columbia College alumnus Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States of America. ... What things might be possible for you at Columbia University? The message directed them to the Division of Student Affairs Web site to find out.
Election buzz continued in the International Affairs Buildings Altschul Auditorium, where an election post-mortem panel featuring the New Yorkers senior editor and commentary writer Hendrik Hertzberg and The Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, a School of the Arts alumna, was held. Provost and historian Alan Brinkley moderated the event.
Brinkley opened the event by saying he had hosted a similarly themed panel four years ago, but the audience then seemed depressed. Most of you are not depressed, Brinkley said, to applause.
I am so happy, Pollitt said, before listing things she learned during the election. I learned not to be so cynical and depressed... I bet money on McCain. But Pollitt didnt seem disappointed by her financial loss.
On a more serious note, Pollitt said she learned that Americans are not as dumb as she thought, and that the person matters in politics. Hertzberg, who was President Jimmy Carters chief speechwriter, said that a major barrier was crossed Tuesday night he didnt think he would live to see a black American in office, he said, or a competently run Democratic campaign.
Brinkley said it was evident from early on that Democrats would take the election, but he was surprised at what an extraordinarily good candidate he [Obama] was.
At the end of the day, everyone on campus seemd to agree that the election was historic, at the very least. I am going to be able to tell my kids and my grandkids when they ask me who did you vote for when you first could vote? I can say Barack Obama and I danced in the streets at 125th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard when he won, Anthony-North said. Thats not something everyone can say.
Sarah Lyon and James Fleming contributed reporting to this article.