By Jeanna Packard
The long plastic table at Baker University Center held 100 red and blue cupcakes, 60 pizzas, bowls of pretzels and chips, trays of finger foods, and 1,000 sodas and water bottles. Within an hour of the party's start, it was scattered with crumbs and crumpled napkins.
No matter. The DJ's party mix carried an energized crowd along Tuesday night during the University Program Council's Election Results Party. And as the music blared, two flat-screen TVs broadcast election updates and political commentary on the historic race for the presidency between Barack Obama and John McCain.
"I should be studying, because I have a test tomorrow," acknowledged Hilary Griffith, a junior majoring in education. "But this is exciting; it's something I will remember. I'll always have more tests."
When CNN projected about 10:30 p.m. that the Democrat from Chicago would win the election, the crowd went wild, simultaneously screaming, crying and cheering. Well before midnight, it was official: Obama was headed to the White House as the nation's 44th president.
Throughout the evening, the excitement transcended party lines and brought the student community together to celebrate history in the making -- and the influence their generation will continue to have on the country's leadership.
"It's cool to be in college during this historical election, especially this one [Ohio University], with all the student involvement," said Sarah Kyriakedes, a junior magazine journalism major.
High-fives, hugs and cheers erupted as CNN reported Obama's lead in Ohio, prompting Kyriakedes -- who touched her McCain pin -- to ask with a laugh, "If McCain wins, will there be uproar?"
Other students said they were proud of their peers' engagement in the political process.
"I'm in poli sci 101 now, and it's interesting to see the working of the government come into play," said Katelyn Schlosser, a sophomore visual communication major. "It's also great to see how much the youth can make a difference. People underestimate the power of the youth. No matter what party, voting makes a difference."
Added Devon Turchan, a sophomore broadcast journalism major: "I felt more empowered in the last three months than I have in my whole life. Until now, I never really felt I had a voice, but our actions are making a difference. I volunteered with the Obama campaign by hanging posters and being vocal about voting."
Other students said they were afraid of being overly confident -- and just wanted the election over so they could finally relax.
"I'm so nervous. ... I have extra stress because I live in Ohio and Florida," said junior information graphics and publication design major Mallorie Bruce, referring to her states' swing status and controversial roles deciding in recent elections. "I want it to be over and not repeat what happened in the last election. ... I hope [the outcome] represents the majority."
"I hope Obama doesn't mess up, because if he does, minorities won't have a shot again. ... He's the gateway," added Aaron Harris, a senior sociology and prelaw major.
UPC organizers said they were happy with the student turnout and enthusiasm.
"It was overwhelming around 7 p.m. when the line to get food wrapped down and around the hall," said Jaclyn Lipp, a junior journalism major and UPC organizer. "We estimated about 200 to 300 people would come, but we've had to order 20 more pizzas."
Updated Nov. 5, 2008, with minor corrections.