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News & Stories: 2008-09

Election 2008: Calvin reacts Updated November 14, 2008

Today we queried Calvin students, faculty and staff about the election. How do they feel about the results of yesterday's historic election?

Their responses follow.

Stephen Okeyo is a freshman economics major from Nyanza, Kenya, the province that was a home to Barack Obama’s father. He is one of approximately 300 international students at Calvin from more than 40 different countries.

Stephen Okeyo

"Why I feel identified is because of roots—the national heritage that we have. It just show how America is able to embrace the world at large. I think it’s going to tone down the polarization. You know, other countries look at America as the bad guy, and I think this could help to improve relations."

Eric Arnoys is a professor in the chemistry department.

Eric Arnoys

"It has still taken me a bit to put it into words. I expected that he was going to win—I was confident going into election day. But the day of wasn't anything I expected. We waited an hour to vote and there were clearly people there who were voting for the first time. ...People were even saying they didn't mind waiting in line because it allowed them to be a part of it all. So as the returns started coming in, I was surprised at the anticipation I was feeling. My wife and I got together with some friends and we were all sort of saying the same thing—this is a really big thing! Some of the commentators on TV were comparing it to the Berlin wall coming down or Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon. What was exciting for me was that there were people who were clearly supporting McCain, but were actually excited about the election results. We have a six-week-old daughter and I just keep thinking of her and hoping it's a different world for her. I was sure [Obama] was going to win, but still...when the results came in, it felt like it had been a really tense election, like it had been a tight race. And maybe that had to do with the fear of what would happen if he lost—not what would happen if McCain won, but if Obama lost."

Laura Bardolph  is a junior English major.

Laura Bardolph

"I’m pleased. I’m glad that we, as a country, were able to overcome some major prejudices … I’m just really hopeful for our country’s future."

Ryan Veenstra is a junior majoring in engineering

Ryan Veenstra

"It was a great thing to see a lot of people out to vote. It was my first time voting. I felt a bit of pressure going out to vote because of all the polls—they were all saying that Obama was going to win. It was interesting to see that a lot of states that went Republican last election went Democratic now. It was surprising. That was my first reaction. At first it was all projected wins, but then, when all the precincts actually started reporting, it was like, 'Wow!'"

Bonnie Speyers, a career counselor in the Calvin office of career development, was undecided even when she entered the voting booth.

Bonnie Speyers

"Personally, I didn’t vote for him, but I’m pretty excited about him getting voted in.  Tom Friedman in the New York Times yesterday talked about the type of leader we need. We need somebody articulate enough to unite and reassure the country. He’s such a gifted communicator that that’s one of the reasons he got voted in … I hope he chooses wise advisors. He’s got a mind to deal with incredibly complex information, so I hope he would draw from multiple sources and divergent viewpoints when he’s doing his research."

Mark Williams is a Calvin professor of classics

Mark Williams

"I voted for McCain. I wish Obama the best… The thing is, we don’t know much about him … I’m not surprised that it was a person like him. He positioned himself to be post-racial and played the race card as little as possible. Of course, everyone else played it for him. But he’s really a person that a white person has no problem voting for."

Jacqueline Rhodes is the assistant dean of multicultural student development.

Jacqui Rhodes

"Do you know how to spell “Aaaaaaaaaaaah!!!”? I’ve had every range of emotion from crying to laughing to disbelief to bewilderment. I’ve even slapped myself … I did not think I would ever see an African American—especially a man—in the White House. It was not even on my list of things I hoped to see in my lifetime because I had limited the power of God in my lifetime. That’s what I tell myself now: ‘Jacque, how dare you limit the power of God in this situation?’ I voted yesterday at 7 a.m., and I called my dad … and I was screaming: 'I voted for the first African American president of the United States!'… When I hung up, I called my grandfather. He said, 'You didn’t think you’d see it in your lifetime? I was a sharecropper, and I didn’t think I would ever have this example for my grandchildren.'"

~words and images by Myrna Anderson and Allison Graff, communications and marketing

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More on the election

Watch and listen to students' thoughts about faith and politics in the 2008 election.

Read about on-campus debate parties held in the fall of 2008.

See a Calvin Video Network clip of an October 2008 Barack Obama speech in Grand Rapids.

Read pre-election Q&As with professors from economics, business and political science about the financial crisis.