In the wake of the election, I directed a campus-wide poll communicated via word of mouth and posters placed around campus in all the Arcadian department buildings and dorms, asking how this election affected the students, faculty, and staff of Arcadia personally. I received nine responses: eight were anti-Trump and one was pro-Trump. While I did not receive very many responses, the ones that I did were a sufficient indicator of how students felt.
The emails I received were titled colorful things, like “trump is a fuck” and “trump is a bully”.
I think it’s important to understand that the type of people who would respond to this kind of survey (and not just the author’s friends cajoled into submitting) are the ones who already felt very strongly about the election. The responses I received were full of emotion, and a handful had a few expletives scattered in. Some were thoughtful, personal essays, while others had rhetoric best likened to angry rants in the YouTube comment section. However, one sweeping theme prevailed across all response: angry division. Division between beliefs on what is socially acceptable, division of people realizing just how politically polarized our nation is, division between family and friends on each side of the election.
This said, I think it is interesting to note that the sole Trump-supporter expressed that he had difficulty debating with contrasting points of view.
To be perfectly honest, it would be all too easy for me to deepen the divide by demonizing him in this article. His e-mail to me was filled with spelling errors, sweeping generalizations, and liberal name-calling. I’ll refer to him as Albert. He is a freshman biology major who was mostly affected by people he knows calling him “racist, homophobic, and a bigot.” Albert stated in his email that “I feel our nation’s boarders (sic) will be protected and my 2nd amendment rights will be protected.” The issues of border control and gun laws were not mentioned by any of the other submissions to the poll.
One student commented on how she realized that her “little bubble of safety and like minded college students had shielded me.”
A few students were not affected personally, but people close to them were. I was particularly touched by Geri’s email, who shared the fear she felt for her two autistic sisters and friends with disabilities. President-elect Trump has publicly mocked disabled people, as well as made connections between autism and vaccines in his tweets and interviews.
The majority of the remaining responses point to anxiety about one issue: LGBTQA rights. Five out the nine responses were afraid for their personal safety and their rights being taken away. Freshman English major Collin stated that he and his friends don’t feel safe in this country anymore.
Becca, a junior studying criminal justice, was more moderate. She said that while this election was not the end of the world, Becca did feel it exposed the nation’s ugliness through racist jokes and comments on social media. She said that this “election changed the way I view our country. I was always taught to be careful with the way I presented myself, to be careful of my words.”
While it’s safe to assume that Arcadia University is a more liberal campus and there isn’t a clear divide down the middle, there definitely is one, and people are feeling the negative aftershocks of the election. As sophomore psychology student Amy put it, “the only good impact this has had on my life was weeding out closed-minded and hateful people from my social media accounts.”