WASHINGTON, D.C. — For a few IU students who were able to make the trip, a Friday morning lesson in civics took place at the United States Capitol instead of in their usual Bloomington classrooms. The swearing-in of President Trump offered an up-close chance to experience one of the most ceremonial days in the American political cycle.
Senior Becca Silbar was positioned to report on the inauguration from the White House before the sun even began to rise.
“I really, really enjoy it, regardless of the politics behind it,” Silbar said. “It’s an amazing experience.”
As a production assistant for Fox News, Silbar has worked throughout election season to cover debates, rallies and the Republican National Convention. She said her work has mostly focused on Republican events because Fox is more connected to the Republican Party.
“I feel like I’ve been there from the start,” Silbar said. “I was at the first , and now here we are at the end, which is kind of crazy.”
Silbar estimated she missed about a month and a half of school for campaign events but said she knowingly traded the classroom for real-world experience.
Silbar said Fox is a good company to work for because she is rewarded with better experiences the more she works for them. In the past she has escorted IU alumnus Mark Cuban for a show and delivered coffee to .
“It’s really cool that before I graduate school I’ll have seven or eight television credits,” Silbar said.
Sophomore Hannah Kraus and junior Nick Magers traveled to the East Coast for their own enjoyment.
“It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Kraus said. “It’s never like I’ve always wanted to go to an inauguration.”
Kraus said she found cheap plane tickets right after the election, and the couple were able to secure access to a ticketed area of the inauguration by sending a request through their legislators. They were surprised by how easy the process was, they said.
Magers had attended Trump rallies in the past, but of the two, Kraus is more politically involved.
She likes to keep up with the news and regularly attends meetings for College Republicans at IU, she said. In the past election, she was an election judge at Union Street Center and made sure everything was fair and nonpartisan.
Even so, she still recognized how different attending the inauguration was.
“This is the most intense thing I’ve done politically,” she said.
Her support for Trump came after her first-choice candidate, Marco Rubio, dropped out of the race before the Indiana primary, she said. As she entered the voting booth on primary day, she knew she had to make a decision between Trump and Ted Cruz, Kraus said. Ultimately, she chose the man who would go on to become president. She said she felt confident in her decision as she walked out of the voting booth.
“I just went with my gut and hit the button,” Kraus said.
Magers said he was drawn to Trump because the former businessman didn’t always stick to the typical political correctness most candidates have.
The two said they consider themselves to be part of the silent majority.
The couple said they felt the atmosphere in Bloomington is much more hostile toward Trump supporters. In contrast, the inauguration crowd wanted to celebrate its new leader, they said. It was a pleasant surprise for them to see people wearing their Trump gear out in the open.
Magers typically avoids wearing his Trump hat at IU or back home in Indianapolis for fear of being misinterpreted as a bigot, he said.
“You never know what look you may get or what someone may say or think of you,” Magers said.
He said he may consider pinning his “Hoosiers for Trump” button on his backpack, but Kraus said she thinks she will continue to keep her ideals to herself.
“I’m just hoping for a respectful next four years,” Kraus said.