In what can only be characterized as a spontaneous outpouring of joy, the Knox College student body as a whole spilled out of their dormitories en masse just minutes after hearing President-elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on Tuesday. Starting as a chanting mob near Five-Name and Conger-Neil, the group moved to the southern area of the Quads as fire alarms were pulled simultaneously in Sellew-Raub, Elder-Campbell, and Sherwin-Neifert Halls.
Commenting later, Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf had this to say about the night’s events, “I think the primary concern took place earlier, and that had to do with the activation of some fire alarms. That’s always a concern, and it happens from time to time. But all in all, the event was respectful, enjoyable, and pleasant for the most part. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood, and wanted to just celebrate a real unique event in American history, and wanted to be a part of it and enjoy it, and I think everybody did.”
Not even the timely arrival of the Galesburg Fire Department and Police Department vehicles could dissuade the crowd from its revelry. Soon, a new chant of ‘Old Main’ was taken up by the crowd, which was now on the move to South Lawn and the steps of Old Main.
“So I’m sitting in my room up in Seymour,” said freshman Dave Brankin, “and I just hear this chant from outside, and so I go outside and I see this heard of people running towards Old Main, and I was like, ‘Oh, definitely,’ and I just ran toward it and joined it, became part of it.”
The crowd, drawing more students out from the Gizmo and Seymour Residence Hall, paused for several minutes for more chanting, shouting, and general celebration.
“It [was] great,” said Assistant Professor of Computer Science Don Blaheta. “I was walking home from a different gathering, and I was at Cherry Street at the tracks, and I heard the party at the Quads, so I figured I had to come check it out.”
Before long, a new chant of ‘Main Street!’ was heard. The joyous mob was once again on the move, down Cherry Street, drawing more people out of the bars there. Turning left down Main Street the crowd congregated around the public square, with more chanting of “Obama!” “Yes We Did!” and “USA!” culminating in the singing of the national anthem.
From there, the now somewhat worn out mob returned to campus, only to be drawn to a jazz band that had begun playing outside of CFA.
“We just noticed a big mob was walking around Knox Campus and so, like, we thought it’d be cool to set up and play and just try to get them over here. [I was playing with senior] Sean Carmichael and [junior] Corey Heppner. Corey decided to set this up,” said sophomore Scott Sapp,
Sapp played the drums for the band as students danced and shouted, eventually joined by members of the faculty and administration, including Jimmy Stewart, Assistant Director for Campus Life.
“It appears that the students are really excited about the outcome of the election,” Stewart said. “They’re having a lot of fun, which is good, and I’m glad they’re civically engaged. It’s a late hour for me, but I’m glad they’re having fun.”
Campus Life Director Craig Southern also stopped by. When asked if he saw any problems with the impromptu concert, he simply responded, “No, just a very cool spontaneous celebration. Nice job.”