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Students express relief in wake of Joe Biden’s victory in presidential election

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, the Associated Press reported Saturday morning. Several UCLA students celebrated the news. (Left to right: Kristie-Valerie Hoang/Daily Bruin senior staff, Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kari Lau and Bernard Mendez

Nov. 7, 2020 2:38 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 8 at 8:08 p.m.

For some UCLA students, the news of a Joe Biden presidency is a sigh of relief.

Former Vice President Biden won the 2020 presidential election and is now the president-elect, according to the Associated Press.

A handful of other news organizations, including CNN, The New York Times and Fox News, called the presidential election early Saturday morning, likely ending President Donald Trump’s tenure after four years.

Westwood was mostly quiet in the immediate hours after the announcements. Some students sang Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” as they walked down Gayley Avenue, but the city did not have any forms of mass celebration. Still, several UCLA students celebrated the news at home.

Sara Wang, the external vice president of Bruin Democrats, said she was relieved to see Biden win the popular vote and the majority of the electoral college votes.

“I was extremely excited to find out that we were officially getting the results,” said Wang, a second-year political science and public affairs student. “Because the past three days have felt like three years in and of themselves.”

Wang added that Biden represents the first step in undoing the damage Trump has caused during his presidency.

Biden’s win comes with the news that Kamala Harris will become the first female and the first person of color to be the vice president. Harris, who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, previously served two terms as California’s attorney general and was one of California’s two senators.

Lamisa Ahmed, the president of the Bangali Students Association and a fourth-year political science and gender studies student, said her younger self would have given anything to see a South Asian vice president. As someone who is interested in politics, she said it is inspiring to see herself represented by Harris, who is half Indian and half Jamaican.

Madison Way, a law student and the co-editor-in-chief of the UCLA Women’s Law Journal, said she is excited to see Harris, who is from California’s legal community, become the vice president-elect.

The announcement of Biden’s win comes four days after Election Day on Tuesday.

The predicted outcome hinged on several swing states waiting to be called, including Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina. The AP called Nevada and Pennsylvania Saturday morning, bringing Biden over the 270 electoral college votes required to win the presidency.

Way said checking the polls became routine for her and her friends. But when she checked CNN on Saturday morning after waking up, she saw that the network called the election for Biden.

“I was surprised by how much relief I felt. I think I didn’t realize how heavy I had felt for the past few years,” Way said. “We had just kind of gotten used to how terrible we’ve been feeling. So, I think, for the first time in a while, I feel hopeful.”

[Related link: Students react with disbelief at Donald Trump presidential election win]

However, Way said for herself and other progressive law students, Biden’s election may not bring as much change as they would like.

Way said she believes Biden is not radical enough to dismantle the United States’ systemic racism. However, Way said she is hopeful that Biden will get the U.S. to where other countries are with the COVID-19 pandemic and said she believes Biden will help improve climate change.

Wang said Biden has shown willingness to work with other leaders, including progressive ones.

UC Student Association President Aidan Arasasingham said in a press release that Biden’s policies are promising for UC students. Biden’s Plan for Education Beyond High School, Arasasingham said, would simplify the financial aid application process and make public universities tuition-free for families who make less than $125,000 annually.

“We look forward to partnering with new the administration to fulfill an even a bolder federal agenda for students aimed at Doubling the Pell Grant, combatting food and housing insecurity, protecting student survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and pushing comprehensive immigration reform for our undocumented and international students,” he said in the press release.

Ahmed said she plans to celebrate the news at home with her family. She added she will not be going out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Way said she has been watching people on the news in the streets of Washington D.C. and New York celebrating Biden’s becoming the president-elect from her Brentwood apartment.

“I’m a little jealous but also very aware that (COVID-19) cases are spiking,” Way said. “So I will not be doing the same.”

Wang said there is still work to be done when Biden becomes president. But for now, she said she hopes to celebrate with a blue cake decorated in democratic symbols.

“This election has so many implications for our future,” Wang said. “But for right now, I’m relishing in the victory.”

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Kari Lau | Outreach director
Lau is currently the Outreach director. She was previously the 2020-2021 features and student life editor and a 2019-2020 News contributor for the campus politics beat.
Lau is currently the Outreach director. She was previously the 2020-2021 features and student life editor and a 2019-2020 News contributor for the campus politics beat.
Mendez was the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
Mendez was the 2020-2021 News editor. He was previously a staff news reporter for the Science & Health beat and a developer for The Stack. He is also a third-year math student at UCLA.
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