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Trump Towers: Students react, fear escalation of campus tension

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The night started off great for Democrats.

On election night, on the upper level of the Red Lion Pub on Lincoln Avenue, the DePaul Democrats hosted a watch party for students interested in watching how one of the most divisive presidential races in recent history would end. Beers and other drinks were had, the small space was packed and early on in the night was neck-in-neck. One state called and then another for Donald Trump, the republican candidate, and then Hillary Clinton, the democratic candidate.

Then Trump won Ohio. Not long after, Trump won Florida. In an upset many did not expect, Trump won the presidential election — 290 electoral votes for the Trump and Mike Pence ticket compared to 228 for Clinton and Tim Kaine.

“I never thought it would come to this,” Jack Hayden, who attended the watch party, said. “During the primaries, I thought someone more moderate would get the republican nomination. I didn’t think that it would come this close. I’m realizing those yard signs that say ‘the silent majority stands with Trump’ are unfortunately more accurate than I thought they would be.”

Overall, 19 percent of millennials — 18 to 29 year olds — voted, according to CNN. Of that number, 55 percent voted for Clinton and 37 percent voted for Trump. For the 30 to 44 year old demographic, 25 percent voted — 50 percent of that vote went to Clinton and 42 percent voted for Trump.

A Trump presidency and what it could mean for people of color, LGBTQ+ identifying people, women, immigrants and others worried some in the room that election night, and days after.

“The idea of Trump as president contradicts everything that matters in our political system,”  Rin Meehan, a DePaul junior who was at the watch party election night, said. “As a bisexual woman, I could lose everything in a Trump presidency. I try to be bipartisan and understand that people don’t always agree with me, and that people have different beliefs, but to vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence and to not think of the people who are going to be immediately destroyed by a Trump presidency, I can’t understand how someone can make that decision.”

Jack McNeil, president of the DePaul Democrats, said the loss represented an opportunity for the party to do a better job of sending a message to the people to make sure that democrats can win back some of the seats they lost on Election Day.

“I think we have to find a successful way of sending (our) message and it’s too bad that the idea that Washington is corrupt was able to allow people to vote for someone who is openly racist and sexist,” McNeil said. “I think this will go down as one of the most shameful moments in the democracy of America.”

From election night onward, other Democrats, people of color and international students reacted to the results. Some expressed shock on election night and then fear or sadness over the course of the days that followed. Their reactions, as well as how the nation should move forward from this point, were on the minds of many.

“Personally, I’ve seen more people who are fearful and scared because they weren’t expecting it,” Amoz Wright, a DePaul sophomore, said.

Laying out his plan for his first 100 days, Trump has said he wants to begin removing the more than 3 million criminally undocumented immigrants from the country; announce a withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities; and suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.

For some, Trump’s election represented a righting of America’s path.

“Trump’s victory is a complete and utter repudiation of the cultural Marxism that has infected the country, and especially college campuses, over the last two decades or so,” John Minster, vice president of the DePaul College Republicans and vice chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom, said. “Americans are sick and tired of being called bigots or racists or sexists or if they don’t agree with any given policy proposal of the Democratic Party. They planted their feet and elected a man who has been called every name in the book, and despite that, at every turn, has continued to walk toward the fire and been successful doing so.”

In the days following the election, Valerie Johnson, associate professor and chair of the political science department said she met with a few students who were worried. One student, she said, broke down in a meeting because of racist things said in class. Johnson said coping with these questions from students in the aftermath of this election has been difficult.

“I don’t know the answers and I haven’t received guidelines, but our faculty will discuss it,” Johnson said. “We talk a lot about American values and we are actually deluded into believing that we have values. Our values have never included people of color or the quote unquote other.”

Trump’s election represents an election based on racism and sexism for those who voted against him. Some point to his comments about women and the Access Hollywood tapes, as well as his failure to repudiate the Ku Klux Klan and the fact that the KKK’s official newspaper issued a statement that defended Trump’s message.

Now that Trump will be the next president, his statements during his campaign — largely related to building walls, deporting immigrants from all nations and closing borders — are now more worrying since they could become a reality.

For Mohamed Abdul-Jabbar, a DePaul junior, his feelings about the result of the election are complicated.

“One side of me wants to believe the country won’t change because of checks and balances, but we have a Republican Congress,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “All of these things are going to affect a lot of people.”

Muslims, Abdul-Jabbar said, aren’t afraid. Citing 9/11, he said that “we’ve been through this since 9/11. We’ve grown and adapted to this Islamophobia.”

Students and Johnson have said that education — about the issues and the lives of others — is important.

An event on Friday in the Student Center asked students to do two things. The first, write a prayer or intention. The second, to answer the question “what do you need from DePaul?”

Emily LaHood-Olsen, coordinator of service immersions for University Ministry and one of the organizers of the event, cited listening to others as a good step toward understanding how Trump was elected and in uniting the country.

“People should take time to heal first and foremost, and be in touch with themselves” she said. “And once you start to feel cared for and stable, be willing to share your story and listen to other people’s. It could lead to empathy and understanding. That’s how I’m going to try to move forward.”

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Trump Towers: Students react, fear escalation of campus tension