When Donald Trump is sworn in as 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., 21 SMU students will be in the crowd to witness the first chapter of what comes next as part of an SMU course on presidential inaugural addresses.


SMU Students go to 2017 Inauguration

“You think about some of the great speeches in American history, and so many of them come from presidents on that inaugural stage,” said William Hagens, a junior political communications and political science double major who aspires to one day work as a political campaign manager.

“This is in line with a lot of the other opportunities I’ve had through the communications program here at SMU,” Hagens added. “I wasn’t surprised this opportunity existed. I’m looking forward to seeing something historic.”

Every four years, SMU faculty organize a class around the inauguration of the president. This year’s course is being organized and taught by Christopher Salinas, director of public discourse in the Division of Communication Studies.

“This is one of those unique experiences you want from college,” Salinas said. “Years from now, students won’t remember everything that happened in the classroom, but they will remember this. For the rest of their lives, they will remember they were at a presidential inaugural address.”

Students were encouraged to contact their congressional representatives to request the highly sought-after tickets they share with constituents. They students will also be able to watch a live-stream of the event from the public area in the National Mall, further from the stage.

In addition to attending the inaugural address, students will also attend an SMU alumni event and the Texas Society’s inaugural ball on the 19th, where they’ll get a taste of Washington, D.C.’s famous ballroom society.

Participants signed up for the course in early fall, well before the election’s outcome was decided. That means that not every student participating in the course supported the winning candidate, but none of them turned down the opportunity to attend the historic event.

“I was not a Trump supporter, but this is an event that’s too big and too special to pass up,” said Spencer Gutierrez, a philosophy and political communications double major with law school aspirations.

“Trump’s presidency … we don’t know what will happen, so everyone wants to say, ‘I was there when it all started,’” Gutierrez added. “Not many people get to see an inauguration in their lifetime.”