Karen Agness asks: Why Did UVa Cancel Classes Only This Time?
On Jan. 20, 2005, George Bush was sworn in as president of the United States. On Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. The University of Virginia decided to suspend classes on only one of these important days. Can you guess which one? … Based on the actions of the UVa administration, George Bush’s Inauguration Day was somehow not “an educational moment” or an “exercise in democracy.” This explanation is suspect. Furthermore, neither Garson’s e-mail nor the official press release announcement that the suspension of class on Inauguration Day is a new policy that will be implemented well into the future regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat is elected.
I’ll be busy working during the inauguration ceremonies. I’ll be no more giddy about this inauguration than I have been about any other. I certainly hope there won’t be anything memorable about the day. With any luck, Obama’s supporters will be too busy celebrating to start the pogroms just yet.
The only time I watched an inauguration was in 1961, and that was because my teachers took the same approach as UVa.
I attended the District #3 school at Bazile Mills, Nebraska. The school, a frame two-room building that had been built in 1884, no longer exists, but I’ve marked its location on the above google map. The boundaries of the schoolyard are still visible, as they were in 1995 when I visited the area at the beginning of my first-ever multi-day bike ride.
I was in 7th grade that year. The teachers arranged for the entire population of the school, from grades 1 through 8 (if I remember correctly) to go to a neighbor’s house where we could watch the inauguration on television. I’m pretty sure it was the house at the location shown at the bottom of the route that I’ve marked. We all sat in the living room and watched. I’m not quite sure how we could have all fit in that house, so maybe I shouldn’t be so sure that the lower grades went, too.
I don’t remember much about it other than the walk to the house and all of us sitting on the floor of the living room. I do remember Robert Frost trying to read a poem. Well, there was the line about “Ask not what your country can do for you…”, which was a good one. The memory of that has been reinforced by many subsequent retellings.
I’m still angry that during the election campaign, our teacher told us that only one of us was thinking for ourselves. This was an eighth grade girl who supported Kennedy, while her parents favored Nixon. The rest of us favored whichever candidate our parents favored, and our teacher took that to mean none of us were thinking for ourselves. I credit that incident for saving me from becoming a typical 60s radical. I decided then and there that I was going to agree with my parents whenever I felt like it, and was not going to be obligated to rebel against them.
Anyway, it was obvious that our teacher (of whom I have otherwise fond recollections) favored Kennedy. I am pretty sure we would not have made a field trip to watch the election on TV if Nixon had won. We certainly would not have gone to that particular home to watch it.
I had favored Nixon during the election and just rolled my eyes at this display of “educational moments” and “exercise in democracy” or whatever terms were used at the time.
Some years later I was cheering for Nixon’s impeachment. Watergate turned me against him well before the 1972 election. (I say this because of all the people who say Watergate didn’t become an issue until after the 1972 election.) That was just the beginning of a string of impeachments that I favored. If Obama abuses his power the same way the Clintons did, I’ll be favoring his impeachment, too. But who knows. He could surprise us all. Maybe he’ll even give a good speech (as Kennedy did that day in 1961). If so, I’ll be able to read about it afterwards.