September 23, 2019 | 90° F

Supporters hit the streets after victory

Photo by Andrew Howard |

Students, faculty and Obama supporters take to the streets yesterday evening after the Illinois senator secured his claim on the Presidency. Ralliers were energetic yet peaceful, said local authorities.

Nearly 1,000 students had gathered in front of Rockoff Hall celebrating and chanting loudly after President-elect Barack Obama's victory yesterday. Despite the large crowd, students obeyed police officers as they cheered and marched.

"[The celebration] was very peaceful," said Lucye Millerand, president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers. "The students are happy and the police are helpful from what I have seen."

The celebration, which started on Douglass Campus as an impromptu parade with about 20 students, moved toward Rockoff Hall before stopping at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue Campus for Obama's victory speech, where students from the College Avenue residence halls had already gathered.

"He won and everyone started flowing in to the street and I was with them," School of Arts and Sciences first year student Emily Simpkins, a resident of Stonier Hall, said.

Watching the crowd pass by near the corner of Mine Street and College Avenue was Millerand, who stood on the sidewalk while dressed appropriately in Obama gear.

As soon as Obama began his victory speech, the crowd of about 200 students packed inside the lobby of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue Campus with all eyes fixed on the single television screen mounted on the wall.

The celebration continued outside of the entrance of the Student Center as more students gathered.

"People were taking off their shirts in the street," said Jocelyn Vargas, a Rutgers College senior said. "People were slapping high fives from cars."

By 12:30 a.m., nearly 300 students began walking down College Avenue back toward Rockoff Hall led by police cars. As the crowd reached the downtown residence hall more than 400 people were gathered, engulfing the area in front of the building.

Students began chanting, "Yes we can", "Obama", "McCain no way" and "No more Bush," as residents cheered out the windows back to the crowd below.

By 12:50 a.m. the crowd reached more than 500 students, but police had no trouble maintaining the peace.

"[It's] just people out celebrating right now, so far it's been peaceful," New Brunswick Police Sgt. Tim Walsh said, as he worked to keep students out of the street.

At one point a student in the middle of the crowd began playing a large bongo drum as people started dancing and chanting loudly in celebration.

By 1 a.m. the gathering maxed out at close to 1000 people before starting to disperse. A smaller crowd of students then continued the celebratory march back down George Street toward Douglass Campus.  There students congregated outside of Jameson Residence Hall before heading back toward the College Avenue Campus, stopping at Easton Avenue before ending the celebration on the steps of Brower Commons in a rally of about 300 students.

Despite a little rain, the celebration continued late into the night as Rutgers University ushered in the 44th president.

"I have never felt so hopeful and seen so much hope in the faces of students, and I have been here a long time," Millerand said.

Dan Bracaglia

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