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The Daily Tar Heel

D.C. Hears Protesters From UNC

Student groups traveled to the nation's capital with goals to either protest or celebrate the inauguration.

UNC students represented all sides of the political and social spectrum Saturday as they braved chilling weather to be a part of history.

Susan Navarro, a freshman member of Young Democrats, said it was thrilling to watch the presidential inauguration while exercising her right to free speech.

"There are two very sacred things to our country happening at the same time," she said, clutching a "Fear Bush" sign. "It's the Constitution in action."

Navarro was part of the self-proclaimed "hard-core contingent" -- the group responsible for organizing 56 Young Democrats and UNC students to ride a bus to D.C. for $25.

After rising at 6 a.m., the Young Democrats rode the Metro to Dupont Circle, a whirlwind of costumes, signs and incensed speakers. Members of the group were stopped by passers-by for pictures and props. Sophomore Kindl Shinn posed for several pictures, sporting a homemade T-shirt and sign reading, "I love frat boys, but I don't want one as president."

Kindl, a member of Kappa Delta sorority, said she came to voice her opinions about the election. "In the absence of a president elected by the people, it creates chaos -- I came here to add to the chaos."

The group later marched to the mall area to protest along the parade route, but Navarro said she was disappointed by what she saw. The protesters lining the road had a lot to say -- but in Navarro's eyes, it was just talk. "It was more anger than passion," she said. "It turned to skepticism and cynicism, and I wanted to see a lot more passion."

But Navarro said watching the patriotism of the parade affected her in a way she didn't expect. "I felt torn between being a citizen and happy about having a new president, and being really angry and passionately displeased by the way the president was elected."

Anne Wolfley, a senior member of Students United for a Responsible Global Environment, said she traveled to D.C. out of principle. "I went there because there's no other way I can speak out about injustices going on in our country."

Justin Johnson, a member of College Republicans, said watching President George W. Bush take the oath of office made the experience worthwhile. "I was proud to be there," he said.

But not all UNC participation in the inaugural events was partisan in nature. The Marching Tar Heels participated in the parade after a short preparatory period of 10 days. "It was an exceptional experience just being in Washington and involved in the inauguration itself," said Jeffrey Fuchs, director of the Marching Tar Heels.

"It was an electric atmosphere. It's not about being Democrat or Republican, it's about being American," he said. "It was so neat to be a part of something at the core of our country."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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