Two weeks after the election, members of our community still feel attacked, reduced and unsafe — no matter their political opinion. The days following the presidential election have been hard on us all. These feelings cannot go unnoticed; they are justified, regardless of political party or ideology.

There is still an unmeasurable animosity between the left and the right, but I truly believe there is plenty of room to come together. Before this can happen, people need to accept the results of election night. Refusing to accept the results, crying for the abolishment of the Electoral College and spreading hate against our peers, no matter who they voted for, hinders our community’s ability to unify after the election — and both sides are at fault.

If you truly want the inclusive country many of you argue for, it’s time to stop calling Trump voters sexists, misogynists, racist and bigots. Whether you agree with them or not, they are Americans who have a right to vote for any candidate. Victory, however, doesn’t give anybody the justification for spreading hate, especially on campus. Hate crimes, such as violently attacking those of the Muslim faith, are completely unacceptable. To any Trump voters who now feel they have the right to express their views in inappropriate ways, your candidate says “Stop it.”

A large proportion of Conservatives and Trump voters are not the racist, sexist, homophobic bigots that they are made out to be. While it is only the miniscule proportion that seems to be having the loudest voice, most Conservatives are bundled with the extremists. This campus, supposedly one of diversity, makes most of us feel uncomfortable in discussing our opinions. This isn’t a short-term problem — it is systemic and long-lasting. We have dealt with professors saying it’s OK to hate Republicans; we have political protests — supported by the University of Michigan’s administration — fueling hate against a major political party and ideology. If I wanted to wear Republican apparel to one of my classes, there is probably a good chance I would be verbally or physically attacked. That type of ideological intolerance should not be condoned at a place that prides itself on intellectualism and diversity, no matter how strong the feelings we have for or against a certain candidate are.

For those with different political beliefs from those of Conservatives like myself, I understand your anger and fear. I get that a lot of what President-elect Trump says scares minority communities on this campus. Faced with slurs, inappropriate language and the talk of threatening policies, there has certainly been much hate. But if you look past his campaign rhetoric, most of the actual policies on immigration or LGBTQ issues, for example, are not radical at all — they are actually more moderate than what other Conservative candidates proposed. I implore anyone who is upset at the outcome of the election and who feels scared for whatever reason to read the president-elect’s policies.

Hashtags such as “#NotMyPresident” not only represent denial and immaturity; they represent intolerance. As much as some may disagree with the president-elect, he will be our president. As Secretary Clinton said, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” While a similar campus movement by Conservatives titled “#NotMyCampus” — through which right-leaning students voiced their objections on the University administration’s bias against conservative students — exists, it is very different. Conservatives here have specific complaints about the school administration’s actions regarding political beliefs, whereas “#NotMyPresident” supporters are merely reacting to a loss by refusing to let go of controversial statements by the president-elect.

The campus administration would be wise to heed Secretary Clinton’s words. Those on both sides argue that campus leaders have a lot to do. Whatever solutions the University pursues, I hope it keeps students of all political backgrounds in mind. Those of all faiths, backgrounds, experiences and political beliefs have the right to be heard and the right to express their opinions. The problems on this campus are not one-sided — they are widespread and deeply rooted. There is a current culture among students of being afraid to voice their opinions, of not accepting each other for what they believe and feeling their environments are hostile. No matter one’s political opinion, people of all sides don’t feel like they can truly speak their minds — and the administration needs to help in an unbiased way.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” As we move past the election, we should strive to return to political debates, not personal ones. In an election in which both sides sank to the lowest levels of political discourse, it is up to us to return to policy and ideas, not personality and labels. We need to forget this election, move on from the hate and work on ideas.

Max Rysztak can be reached at

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