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American Today

Student Life

‘This is Our Super Bowl’

By Mike Unger and Jon Hussey

Election fever struck AU Nov. 4, and just after 11 p.m., it gave way to full-blown Obama-mania.

Hundreds of students gathered in the Mary Graydon Center to watch election returns on a big-screen TV, and when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer called the race for Barack Obama, almost all of them went bonkers.

The crowd, larger than even the group that assembled in March to watch the men’s basketball team play in the NCAA Tournament, broke into alternating chants of “Obama!” and “Yes we can!” ZDF German TV anchor Claus Kleber, who led his network’s live broadcast from campus all evening, rushed into the tavern, crew in tow, to capture the moment for tens of thousands of online and TV viewers in Germany and across Europe. The doors of the Mary Graydon Center flew open and in flowed a steady stream of students coming to celebrate with their classmates and friends. Some were shirtless, some were screaming, some were hugging, some were crying. Within 25 minutes, the crowd thinned a bit as students rushed out to celebrate in the streets of Washington.

“This is our Super Bowl,” Bill DeBaun, director of the Kennedy Political Union, said as the night was just getting started. DeBaun conceived of the election night party and helped organize it.

Sprinkled in the crowd were a few McCain partisans, and even some with no dog in the fight.

Chum Leung is an exchange student from Hong Kong. He decided to come to AU after reading a story on the Internet detailing its selection by the Princeton Review as America’s most politically active campus.

“I don’t know about the background of the two people running, but I just want America to elect a president that will bring peace and prosperity to the rest of the world,” he said.

It’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of Leung’s classmates believe Barack Obama is the man to do just that. When his victory became a reality, bedlam ensued.

David Loudon, a sophomore from Worcester, Mass., was wearing a red Obama T-shirt.

“Election day is like Christmas for D.C.,” he said.