Election results create conversations, generate reactions on campus

Brandi Doyal, Senior Staff Reporter [email protected]

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After a long night of waiting and an even longer campaign trail, both the United States and our community are torn. Students, administrators, faculty, staff and even campus visitors all play different roles today as our community is forced to decide what comes next.

Donald Trump will serve as the 45th president of the United States after his inauguration on Jan. 20. 

“Hopefully, the election teaches the importance of involvement in politics,” Political Science Professor Celeste Lay said. “Initial turnout estimates suggest that many who were a part of the Obama coalition did not vote at the same high levels as in 2008 and 2012.”

As more votes were counted Tuesday night, it became evident Hillary Clinton won the popular vote leading many people to wonder if the results were final.

“The election is over,” Lay said. “The Electoral College is determinative. That Clinton won the popular vote indicates that this was a very close election. In several states, the difference between the two candidates’ votes is miniscule.” 

From referring to Mexican immigrants as bringing drugs and being rapists to recent accusations of sexual assault, Trump’s campaign has experienced controversy after controversy since the time he declared his candidacy in June 2015.

“It is scary that someone won based on comments of hatred and racism,” sophomore Ariana Kathuria said. “It is scary that’s what the country voted for. It’s not what I was expecting and I just don’t know what to say.”

Lay said she felt following the results of last night, many immigrants, refugees, Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ+ individuals and women across racial and economic groups will feel the results of this election and Trump’s future policies. 

“We can listen, offer assistance and fight for those whose lives are most affected,” Lay said. “After some initial shock and despair, it is time for her supporters – or for Trump’s opponents, even if they did not support Clinton – to organize, mobilize, and push back.”

Senior Zoë Krulak-Palmer, a leader of Students Organizing Against Racism, said she felt this election reinforced cultural themes around race. 

“This presidency is a logical result of white supremacy, xenophobia, every form of oppression the U.S. is built upon,” Krulak-Palmer said. “I was deep in my own privilege in not facing the fact that we would elect someone who so openly embodies these forms of violence.”

While the presidential race was the main focus Tuesday night, other issues and offices were on the ballot. California, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, with the vote still being contested in Maine.

There have always been ongoing efforts in grassroot organizations to resist against oppression, but in this moment in time it is more important than ever…,” Krulak-Palmer said. “As people of color have called on white people to do for decades, we must organize by truly listening to people of color and centering their voices….” 

While Clinton was the first woman nominated by the Democratic National Convention to run for the office of president, other benchmarks were made for women across the nation. The new Senate will have at least 21 women senators, the most ever in office at one time. 

Catherine Cortez Masto, Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth and Ilhan Omar all took firsts respectively becoming the first Latina senator, first biracial woman in the Senate, first Thailand-born senator and first Somali-American woman to serve in the House. Oregon elected Kate Brown as the first openly LGBTQ+ governor in American history.

The Louisiana senate race is in a run-off. On Dec. 10 voters will decide between Republican John Kennedy, who received 25 percent of the vote, and Democrat Foster Campbell, who received 17 percent. Former leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke also ran for the seat and received three percent of the vote. 

First-year Tulane law student Austin Vincenzini said he felt the presidential election does not hold much sway in students’ day-to-day lives, but this Senate race will prove more vital.

“The Senate and the House will have a much more important impact on our daily lives,” he said. “Especially in an aligned house. Students might actually feel the effects of decisions in an aligned Congress’ decisions.” 

Regardless of the results, for most students this was their first presidential election in which they were able to vote. Many in the Tulane community spent last night watching the election at a friend’s house, a watch party, at home on the sofa or even at The Boot Bar and Grill. 

Tensions across campus and individual frustrations with the results are apparent, but some students such as junior Kate Earnest urge people to stay hopeful.

“Personally, I’m not happy with the results. A lot of people have been like, ‘this is the worst thing that’s ever happened,’ and I think it’s not necessarily such a dire situation,” Earnest said. “Going forward, it is really important to stay involved politically….It is not such a hopeless situation as people are painting it out to be.”

In an email addressed to the Tulane community on Wednesday, President Michael Fitts stated his concern for the community and his hope that it grows closer together in this difficult time.

“This election revealed deep and abiding divisions in our country, over race and class, gender and identity, immigration and religion,” Fitts said. “It has been hard-fought and divisive, and I fear it may leave lasting scars in our country and for many of you…This is a moment when we must actively choose to come together as a Tulane family.”
 
Fitts added that many members of the community were already struggling with the “…loss of a beloved friend last week, magnified by the tumult of the election…” and encouraged those who need it to seek out resources. 

Small protests popped up around the country following the announcement that Trump won the electoral college. Tulane University Police Department reported two altercations — one armed — early Wednesday morning that were sparked by election-related conversations and apparel.

The presidential election has been decided. In an interview with Buzzfeed News on Tuesday, President Obama said this has been an “…exhausting, stressful and sometimes downright weird election for all of us.” He also called for respect and fellowship among Americans. 

“Rarely do any of us get candidates that we find perfect in every way,” Lay said. “Democracy requires compromise, not just in policy-making, but also in elections. Those who demand perfection and purity will not only be consistently disappointed, but their interests will be unrepresented. If you are not willing to pressure [your beliefs], to find common ground and importantly,  to listen even to those with whom you disagree, then it may be a very long four years.”

For those in need of help, contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 504-314-2277. The CAPS office, located in the Science and Engineering Complex, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. CAPS provides mental health counseling and other related services. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.