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Hi everyone, tonight there will be a screening of Donald Trump's speech to a joint session of congress in the JYC atrium at 8:00pm! Pizza! pic.twitter.com/Tun8o0cNWC
— Emmanuel College SGA (@ECStudentGov) February 28, 2017
At 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, the Student Government Association (SGA) live streamed President Donald Trump’s address to Congress in the Jean Yawkey Center. About 35 students gathered in the JYC at start of the event, though this number shrunk throughout the course of evening.
Eric Cote ’18, Executive Vice President of the SGA, was the driving force in organizing the event.
“I have worked hard to put this together very quickly and now I’d like to see a great turnout. . . I think this will be an event of historical significance and I believe it will have an impact on all students,” said Cote in an email advertising the event.
At the event, Cote again stressed its importance.
“My goal is always that the campus should be educated on politics, and while not many of us agree with Trump, including myself, I think it’s important to understand where he’s going in order to respond to it as students and as individuals of Boston,” he said.
Dr. Petros Vamvakas, professor of Political Science and International Studies, also attended and enjoyed the event. He appreciated that the event brought together different groups of people, and admired that the address was viewed with “seriousness and without any exhibition of partisanship.”
“It is imperative that we have an active and well informed college community, especially at a time when so many events are taking place. We are members of a college with a long and distinct mission of social justice and engagement and as such we should be informed, educated and active,” said Vamvakas.
Vamvakas commended Eric Cote and the rest of SGA for organizing the event, and encouraged students to continue taking an active role in politics and citizenship.
As the live stream of the event began, a mood of dissatisfaction became palpable in the JYC, and reactions to Trump’s address could be seen and heard throughout the event. As Trump first entered Congress, boos and chants against the President could be heard amidst the students crowded around the television.
Similarly, heads shook, eyes rolled, and mumbles of “oh no” could be heard as Trump addressed both Black History Month and the growing anti-Semitic sentiment in the U.S.
As the camera panned to the crowd, few students noted the number of democratic women donning white, a symbol of their solidarity with women’s issues.
Trump’s address, though more cohesive and eloquent than previous speeches, continued to stress the nationalistic and isolationist sentiments that gained him so much support in his campaign. He focused heavily on the progress his administration has made so far. Trump referenced “draining the swamp” of corrupt government officials and lobbyists, clearing the way for the Dakota Access Pipeline, creating “tens of thousands of jobs” in the process, increasing women’s access to entrepreneurial opportunities, and “answering the pleas of the people” to tighten immigration laws.
He concluded the summary of his policies with a characteristic promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, as well as to soon begin construction of a “great, great wall” along the southern border of the U.S.
Trump’s encouragement for politicians to work past differences in policy was met with boos from clusters of Emmanuel students.
Trump utilized a new tone of unification into his address as he called for bipartisan cooperation. He encouraged Congress to join forces for the good of the people, to create a better future for the next generation, and to “get the job done and get it done right.”
When Trump encouraged Congress that his administration would work past the mistakes of the past, an Emmanuel student shouted, “You are our mistake!”
After Trump reminded Congress that he would indeed Make America Great Again, a student screamed out of frustration.
After the event concluded, Cote said to The Hub that he hopes and believes that more events like this live stream will happen in Emmanuel’s future, whether they be similar to Trump’s address to Congress or domestic events in and around Boston. He encouraged clubs Model UN, Political Forum, and Youth In Government to take leading roles in organizing more events like Tuesday’s address.
“I think it was a great event that Emmanuel put forward so that all of us can stay politically active together and civically engaged on matters that truly effect us all,” said Kelly D’Andrea ’19, a Political Science major who attended the event.
In addition, instead of focusing on the divisiveness of the current political climate, D’Andrea commended the sense of community demonstrated through Tuesday’s event, which was exactly that which she hoped to find when coming to Emmanuel.
Emery Veilleux ’20 is the Assistant Managing Editor and a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org