In her 17 years at Northwestern, sociology Prof. Nicola Beisel had never canceled a class. That was before she received an invitation to join members of NU’s American Studies program on a trip to witness President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“As professors, we do have an obligation to hold classes, but I had a bigger obligation to go to this,” she said. “There was no way I could miss this inauguration.”
Beisel, who has supported Obama since he ran in the primary for a seat in the U.S. Senate, is one of the professors who have chosen to suspend classes at 11 a.m. today.
“It was important for me to be there with everyone the moment he is sworn in,” she said. “I never thought our country was capable of doing what it did Nov. 4.”
While some professors canceled classes, others incorporated the historic event into their syllabuses.
For Weinberg sophomore Alyson Weiner’s Introduction to Black Social and Political Life class, students are required to write a reaction to the inauguration and Obama’s speech.
“It’s a really great idea because it fits in with our class’ objectives,” Weiner said. “And I’m sure that the address will be unlike anything this country has heard before.”
For gender studies Prof. Nick Davis, the decision to cancel his Contemporary Women Filmmakers class was an easy one. Davis attended high school in Washington, D.C. and always had Inauguration Day off.
“I’m sure there will be those students who won’t care, but it seems like a pretty historic election,” Davis said. “It’s one of those moments where students might want to tell their grandchildren they watched it.”
Derrick Wu is one of those students.
Wu is skipping his calculus class in order to watch the inauguration live.
“This is easily the most important election I’ve ever experienced,” the Weinberg and Music freshman said. “Obama’s campaign has inspired so many people, so his inauguration is a very pivotal event in our nation’s history.”
Classes should have been cancelled across campus like they were on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Wu said.
“Going to class and learning about things that might potentially help us in the future is really important,” he said. “But Obama’s inauguration is something that only comes along once in our lifetime.”