Inauguration turnout as expected


by Karl Lang

The turnout for President John Byrd’s inauguration on Friday was exactly as the inauguration committee expected it to be: high in faculty and friends of the president, low in students.

The crowd consisted of Byrd’s family and friends, Simpson faculty and staff, delegates from 60 other colleges and educational partners and about 15 students who weren’t volunteers or part of the ceremony itself.

The Simpson College Choir and some student volunteers assisted in the ceremony, but there was a distinct lack of student faces in the crowd. Sophomore Benay Hicks was there.

“It was important to see the tradition,” Hicks said. “It helps provide us a sense of the type of education we are getting at Simpson. It was disappointing to see the low student turnout. Some students did, and that shows some students at least do care.”

The committee that was planning all the events in conjunction with the inauguration ceremony foresaw the low student turnout, according to John Kellogg, vice president of marketing and research.

“In the past ceremonies, [student turnout] has been up and down,” Kellogg said. “It is usually held on a Saturday or Sunday, but the schedule worked out this way.”

He said the college wasn’t sure how many students would attend the inauguration.

“We just crossed our fingers and hoped for a good turnout,” Kellogg said. “It was up to the students to attend. We did not make it mandatory, and we put plenty of notice of it in campus e-mails and the newspaper.”

Some students had mixed feelings about the lack of attendance at the inauguration.

“It was disappointing to not see many students here,” sophomore Courtney Swanson said. “I heard [the organizers] did not expect students to come. They should have been more supportive.”

According to Kellogg, the committee planned for a low student turnout at the inauguration itself, but to compensate for that, they focused on getting students to attend other events like All College Sing and the SGA-sponsored dinner.

“It was a question of the space available,” Kellogg said. “We tried to accommodate as many people as we could, students and guests.”

The First United Methodist Church was nearly full for the ceremony, which lasted for about two hours. Swanson said it was a worthwhile experience.

“It was really special because it is an important part of Simpson’s history,” Swanson said.

Senior Carl Benskin said students who didn’t attend missed out.

“I loved the ceremony, and I loved the president’s speech,” Benskin said. “It was wonderful; I just think that students were not involved enough in the process. I was disappointed more students didn’t show. It’s something that has happened only 22 times in over 145 years, and it’s something only a few students get to be a part of. [The students who did not attend] missed out on something great.”