Pomona College Magazine
Volume 45, No. 2
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Student Power / The 2008 Vote
Election Night at Pomona

By Mark Kendall

Students were here and there on election night, gathering in the columned Carnegie Building to watch the returns roll in, but also tracking news online and chatting with friends and family thousands of miles away. Even as NBC’s Brian Williams loomed in the big-screen background, the real action was on laptops and cell phones.

Alison Blume ’11 was busy with phone to ear providing the latest election news to her brother Cameron Blume ’06, serving in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. In another room of Carnegie, where four different news Websites were projected onto a screen, Rose Green ’12 was scrolling the New York Times on her laptop, zeroing in on counties in her home state of Colorado, while also keeping in touch with a friend in Vermont and her boyfriend in Nevada, who had to work that night. “I’m texting him and updating him all the time,” she said.

Low tech was contained to the lobby, where an energetic Isaac Kastama ’11 worked a blank-white wall map, coloring states red or blue with markers only after students agreed that enough media outlets had made the call. But Kastama also had his laptop open to Time magazine’s political blog, The Page, which just after 7 p.m. was already declaring Obama the winner: “The networks won’t tell you but The Page will.”

The gathered still needed a communal media moment. As the West Coast polls closed at 8 p.m., the party banter diminished and all eyes turned to the TV to watch the networks call the election for Obama. Hugs and hollers and general jubilation ensued, spilling out the doors, even as a much larger scene of celebration unfolded on the big screen. Wishing he could be there, Chicago native Jose Acevedo ’10 wistfully watched the coverage of the masses gathered in Grant Park in his hometown for Obama’s victory speech. Acevedo was overheard talking on his cell phone, asking his mom back home: “Why aren’t you there?”

©Copyright 2008
by Pomona College
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