Democratic-leaning campus somber, but seeking unity after Trump presidential victory
On the first day after the 2016 election, in which President-elect Donald Trump won an upset victory, campus was strangely quiet — no voices calling out on the Diag encouraging students to vote, no one campaigning on behalf of their candidates. Messages of encouragement and inclusivity were chalked on the Diag, but besides that, campus largely seemed silent and somber.
LSA senior Lauren Gallagher, president of the University's chapter of Students for Hillary, said she noticed a darker mood on the Democratic-leaning campus today after Trump’s victory, but noted she also saw students and administrators reach out with comforting words to one another.
“Today, the climate on campus was somber; students were not only thinking about themselves, but also their family, friends and fellow students who may be in marginalized groups,” Gallagher said. “But within this climate, I saw students coming together supporting one another and the University administration stepping up and saying ‘we are here for you.’ ”
Washtenaw County voted overwhelmingly for Clinton by a margin of 71.1 percent to Trump’s 26.5 percent yesterday though Trump leads statewide by 1,1837 votes and claimed the presidency by at least 279 electoral votes.
But, students still made their support for Clinton known Wednesday, taking to the Diag in attempts to spread more hopeful messages. Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Alexandra Deamant, who voted for Clinton, sat holding a “Love Trumps Hate” flier Wednesday afternoon.
“(I felt) shock and anger and frustration and all of the bad emotions,” Deamant said. “I am outwardly reflecting love and hope, even though I am so lost and confused right now.”
Later that day a vigil was held on campus in response to the election of Trump as president.
However, not all students were unhappy with the election outcome. LSA junior Enrique Zalamea, president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said he felt disappointed and saddened by the responses to Trump’s victory. He emphasized his wish for humility and unity, saying he witnessed signs at the “Uniting Michigan” student vigil on the Diag that he believed were contrary to the event's message and goal.
“As a first-generation American who truly loves this country and what it stands for, I am incredibly saddened to see the response of this campus to such a great victory for the American people,” Zalamea said. “Some students at the vigil tonight were talking about how ashamed they are being an American; one student had an American flag with the words ‘Abolish America’ written on it … now is the time for unity, for humility and for prayer.”
Engineering sophomore Jack Kuchta, who voted for Trump, also said he was alarmed by the campus environment today and felt that some peers who knew he was voting for Trump treated him with more hostility.
“When talking with some of my friends, they seemed mad at me, which is extremely alarming seeing as they had all been perfectly fine with me supporting him before and during the election while Hillary Clinton was still in the race,” Kuchta said.
University administrators, including President Mark Schlissel and LSA Dean Andrew Martin, sent out emails Wednesday calling for unity, diversity and inclusiveness within the University community in the wake of the results.
“Our responsibility is to remain committed to education, discovery and intellectual honesty — and to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Schlissel wrote. “We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across our ideological differences; to support ALL who feel marginalized, threatened or unwelcome; and to pursue knowledge and understanding, as we always have, as the students, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan.”
LSA junior James Margard, a Clinton supporter, said he was disappointed with the outcome but wanted to see how and whether Trump will work to unify not only the country, but also the Republican Party.
“I’m disappointed in the result, but I will be interested to see how Trump works with the rest of the Republican Party, and to see how each party changes over the course of the next two years, especially fractures within the Republican Party,” Margard said.