Rallying themselves was a tall order for the dejected supporters of John Kerry who braved high winds to speak at a gathering in front of the Student Center three days after the election.
"We are hoping for a little rejuvenation," said Anne Pollock, a graduate student in the Program in Science, Technology and Society and co-founder of the two-week old campus group, the MIT Free Radicals, which organized the Nov. 5 event.
The "Beyond the Vote" rally was scheduled two weeks before the election, but both Pollock and Free Radicals co-founder Sarah Johnstone, a graduate student in biology, suspected that something inspirational would be necessary.
While the few people who attended the rally were dedicated, the turnout was disappointing. "People are a bit depressed," said Pollock.
The steps outside the Student Center became a makeshift stage for them to air thoughts, feelings and concerns following the U.S. Presidential election. Speakers came up in between recorded songs by pop stars like Pink and Christina Aguilera, picked for their angry lyrics and energizing beat.
"The first thing we have to realize is that we do not represent the majority of Americans," said freshman Richard Hughes, a computer science and comparative media major from Texas. "America is more conservative, socially and economically, than most people are willing to accept."
Hughes competed with gusts of wind up to 61 mph whipping past the microphone. "The massive division is a major problem. We need to stop debating and start looking for compromise."
Guest speaker Hugh Gusterson, associate professor of anthropology in the Program in Science, Technology and Society, shared a letter he received on Nov. 2 from a young woman in Georgia who had lived with his family last summer. She had come to Massachusetts knowing she would vote for Bush, but by summer's end, she was a Kerry supporter, Gusterson said. That transition gave him hope.
"You represent the future of this country," Gusterson told the small crowd, most of whom were under 30.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 10, 2004 (download PDF).