The goosebumps I’ve had for the last 72 hours are starting to get very uncomfortable.
Political affiliations aside, the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election was stunning. Either in rejoice or in devastation, students across the University of Redlands’ campus dealt with the outcome in different ways. Both ecstatic dancers and glum drunkards inhabited Two Dollar Tuesday downtown. Some chanted near the library shouting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and others sobbed to their CAs, to their mothers on the phone, or alone in their dorm rooms.
If you don’t have permanent goosebumps like I do, you probably haven’t been paying close attention to the gravity of this election.
Wednesdays are generally rough for me. Thanks to my tendency to bite off more than I can chew, I have four classes, nearly back to back, with meetings in between, typically leaving me feeling rather drained and existential. Wednesday, Nov. 9, required far beyond my usual energy exertion. In fact, I would call it the strangest day of my life so far.
I was halfway expecting life to come to a halt for a full 24 hours; I dreamt of cancelled classes and meetings, an unexpected thunderstorm and lots of Gossip Girl reruns. But to my surprise, what followed was quite the opposite. My first class at 9:30 a.m was above average in attendance, full of sleepless voters eager to discuss what these results actually mean. Discussions were heated. Our professor told us to breathe easy, and that we should carry on, putting one foot forward in front of another, regardless of who we voted for. Most of those around me seemed confused about how to function normally, but were thankful to hear that our dear American democracy will live on.
So Cal was 85 degrees and sunny, as per usual.
The day got more interesting as it progressed. In one class, we all sat in a circle, criss-cross applesauce on the floor, and entertained a bowl of candy and a box of tissues as everyone discussed our emotional states. We were advised to “put on our boots and go kick some ass”.
Another class involved a screaming match between disgruntled Clinton and Trump supporters about what a vote for Trump meant. Conservatives in the class spoke out against being stereotyped as “racist, homophobic, islamophobic, misogynistic bigots,” and instead asserted that they are just trying to make America great again. A member of the LGBTQ+ community was promptly shut down after expressing their concerns that “Trump supporters want me dead.”
Hour by hour, Wednesday increased in heat. Tear stained students hesitantly walked to class, while Trump T-shirt-wearers walked in confidence and pride.
At 11:10 a.m., University President, Ralph Kuncl, announced via email that the community was in need of a forum “to discuss how we feel at this historic time in our country and the world”. The forum was held in Orton Center, at 7:30 pm that evening, and was facilitated by Provost Kathy Ogren and Chaplain John Walsh.
That evening, approximately 300-400 students, faculty, administrators and even a few community members, came flooding into Orton Center, ready to share their thoughts. What followed was what I expected: non-Trump supporting individuals expressing their concerns about their future. Yet, most agreed that Hillary supporters or anti-Trump-ers have to learn to accept the situation and love and support every one of our fellow Americans. Many attendees shared personal anecdotes about how their personal lives may be affected by Donald Trump taking office; fears that aren’t typically present in an exchange of power.
A member of the LGBTQ+ community from Tennessee said, “in the South, we hate gays,” and then continued to assert the only source of protection for their civil rights is the federal government. He said giving the entire federal government to the Republicans makes him terrified for people’s safety– not only for the gay LGBTQ+ community but for all minority groups.
A CA said that listening to his residents sob in fear and disappointment made Wednesday night the hardest thing he has had to experience in his life.
“Something that frustrates me is that people keep telling us to calm down, but you don’t have the right to tell us that,” another participant expressed. “There are white supremacist groups parading through the street, but you voted for him because of his economic policies. Let’s have a conversation. But don’t shut people down and say that they are being over dramatic.”
A young man said that he has a nine-year-old sister and is concerned about what is going to happen to her control over her body and her rights over the next four years.
Another young man said that he belongs to a family of six children. “What happens if my mom gets deported?” he asked. “Who’s going to take care of the kids? So many people just don’t understand that feeling. Racism is so there.” He continued to explained that most of his family, who all work so hard to support their family and do no harm, is composed of undocumented immigrants. He explains how his grandfather works from 9 p.m to 10 a.m every single night with no breaks, and the idea of him getting deported is absolutely terrifying.
An alum from ‘93 and a community member said, “welcome to the struggle. It’s been happening for a minute.” But continued to explain from experience that, “We gotta have alliances. Racism is one thing but resentment is another.”
The voices heard at the forum were united Wednesday evening. But many expressed a need to hear from different perspectives. I have heard many conflicting sentiments in the days after the election, but one of the few that everyone seems to have in common is that we will get nowhere unless we try our best to unite. Try our best to have open dialogues about differing opinions. Strive to love each and every one of our fellow students, colleagues and Americans.
People seemed disappointed that the Trump supporters in the audience didn’t participate in the discussion. At the same time, people seemed to understand that the heat may have been too high and the emotions too raw to have accepting conversations with those on opposing platforms. As Leela MadhavaRau said, safe spaces are important, but in this climate, we also need brave spaces, where people who have different perspectives can talk freely about how they feel, so we can all learn how to make these next four years as productive as possible.
I ended my Wednesday in delirium on my hallway floor, laughing about this guy I always see in the Plaza and Cafe buying as many sweets as possible. Tear stained, wrapped in a blanket, and relatively paralyzed, I thought about how these next four years are going to be quite the wake up call, whether we want them to be or not.
My goosebumps are still present. They probably will be for a while. But with time, they will fade, and the American people will unite once again. And hopefully, President-Elect Donald Trump will find a way to begin facilitating our unity.
Any opinions in this article are not necessarily representative of the Redlands Bulldog staff, but should be attributed solely to the author.