Gov. Charlie Baker’s inauguration met with mixed feelings

By Jaclyn Bryson

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The front doors of the State House swung open on Jan. 7 as Deval Patrick emerged. Following the blasts from the 19-gun salute that echoed through the air, he took the traditional “lone walk” down the steps on Beacon Hill, marking the end of his eight years as governor of Massachusetts.

The next day, Charlie Baker would take his place.

“I’m well aware of the authority and privileges that come with this office. But they’re inconsequential in comparison to the responsibility of serving and protecting the people of this great state,” Baker said at the beginning of his inaugural address. “And the obligation to always live up to their trust.”

Fellow Republicans Mitt Romney, Chris Christie and Scott Brown applauded as Baker placed his left hand on the bible and swore the oath at the State House on Jan. 8, officially making him the 72nd governor of Massachusetts.

And while many University of Massachusetts students said they didn’t take much interest in Baker’s inauguration, those who did had differing opinions. Ilana Morris, a sophomore, said she heard bits and pieces of his address on the radio and has mixed feelings.

“The part I did hear, I thought it was interesting because I was agreeing with some of his views,” she said. “But I’m afraid he’s just saying what we want to hear.”

“I’m definitely Democratic, but I’m trying to be optimistic about this,” junior Aldila Yunus said. “I feel like he’s going into this the correct way. I think he’s starting off incredibly bipartisan.”

In his speech, Baker addressed what he believes are the big issues facing Massachusetts today, including public education standards, the budget deficit and opiate addictions.

“I’ve said a thousand times, I want every community to be a place where people believe tomorrow is going to be better than today,” Baker added in his address. “I say that not just because I believe it, but because I believe in it.”

Junior Brian Jing said he hopes to see Baker decrease unemployment, while Yunus said she wants to see a change in education, agreeing with some of Baker’s statement about the importance of high-performing public charter schools. And while Baker said he was hopeful for the future, he made it clear there is more to be done.

“We’re nowhere near our full potential,” he said in his speech. “Some of our toughest challenges have been ignored and lost amid the successes. Or have become the equivalent of kicking a can down the road because they’re not politically convenient or easy to fix.”

“I agree,” Jing said. “I feel you should always strive to be better.”

But some UMass students are skeptical.

“Obviously we have our shortcomings but I think that is being a little too pessimistic,” Yunus said. “I think he should be focusing on good stuff about Massachusetts too.”

In Hampshire County, Charlie Baker earned only 34.9 percent of the vote during the 2014 gubernatorial election, but won with 48.5 percent of the total Massachusetts vote. Yet despite the mixed opinions across the state, many UMass students agreed they will just have to wait and see what the future holds.

“I have a lot of concerns, but at this point you just have to see how it plays out,” Morris said.

“Generally, our Republican governors have been really good,” Yunus said. “I’m hopeful.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MackyMouse93.