WASHINGTON — 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump was officially sworn in as President of the United States today, marking the first time a Penn graduate has held the highest political office in the country.
The inauguration ceremony took place amid cloudy skies and chilly weather. Although the atmosphere was fraught with tension — over 200 protesters were after some demonstrations turned violent — Trump’s inaugural address focused on unity.
“We are one nation and their pain is our pain,” he said. “Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”
The flamboyant businessman achieved a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in November after a long and bitter campaign marked with a seemingly endless string of controversies. He frequently referenced his Wharton degree while campaigning, arguing that his Ivy League credentials have sharpened his business acumen.
The only previous president with ties to Penn, William Henry Harrison, was president for one month in 1841 before dying of pneumonia. Harrison briefly attended Penn’s medical school in 1790, but dropped out after less than one semester.
Although three of Trump’s children have graduated from Penn — including his daughter Tiffany in 2016 — he has a complicated relationship with the school. It is how much money he has actually donated to Penn or Wharton, even though he has frequently boasted of his charitable giving.
Today at Penn, two dozen students participated in a walk-out at 3:30 p.m. to protest Trump’s inauguration. Engineering senior Ava Lipatti, a member of Penn Students for a Democratic Society, organized the walk-out.
“We want to inaugurate our resistance to the inauguration of Trump,” Lipatti said in a speech to the students assembled on College Green. “We have to have resistance in every step. We don’t have time to give Trump a chance.”
“The way the government is set up makes it easy for Trump to carry out his agenda,” she added.
Trump has faced harsh condemnation from the Penn community throughout the election cycle. In July, 3,800 Penn students, graduates, parents, partners and family members signed a against Trump, declaring, “You do not represent us.”
In the days and weeks following Trump’s unprecedented victory, Penn witnessed several protests from student groups, and professors cancelled classes and postponed exams to accommodate students who felt threatened by Trump’s victory.
Many Penn students still chose to attend the inauguration, including around 20 students from College Republicans. Although the group was initially divided over whether to support Trump, Wharton junior Sean Egan, the club’s president, said .
Egan said he hopes Trump will be a voice for all Americans as his presidency begins, and that he will reach across the aisle to accomplish certain legislative goals.
“I think it’s important to continue to emphasize how, even though he was elected by the people who voted for him, he now represents everyone in the U.S.A. — regardless of their background, where they’re from and so on,” he said.
College Republicans is hoping to bring one or two top Trump officials to campus in the fall, and eventually even the president himself.
“Penn is so important to him and his family,” he said. “It would be great to welcome him home.”
Other Penn student groups plan to attend the Women’s March on Washington tomorrow, including Penn Democrats, Hillel, the Muslim Student Association, We are Watching and others.
Staff Reporter Esha Indani contributed reporting.