As it became clear that former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would lose to President-elect nominee Donald Trump, there was an apparent change in mood at the watch party in the Healey Family Student Center. After the election was called for Trump, the spectrum of reactions on campus was varied. Some cheered on Village
A rooftops and in the HFSC to celebrate a Trump presidency, while others took to social media to voice their concerns and outrage.
After students ran to the White House , some celebrating, others protesting, numerous videos recorded of the evening showed Trump and Clinton supporters hailing expletives at one another and engaging in vicious shouting matches. The somber mood continued the following day, with some students crying while others skipped their classes.
In the aftermath of this divisive election, the Georgetown community must come together in reflection, as it did in an interfaith event at Dahlgren Quadrangle on Wednesday. Students cannot let the negativity that dominated this campaign cycle continue to permeate our lives in coming weeks. Instead, students must ensure that our campus remains a place of dignity and respect, of care and civility. Instead of lashing out on issues that divide members of our community, students should aim to demonstrate their care for one another.
Throughout the past year, the campaign season has seen incidents of violence, lies, bigotry and hate. Only a few days after Trump’s victory, a list of hate crimes in America has circulated on Twitter’s “Moments” page, which pulls together similar tweets into a single category. Such incidents include recently vandalized mosques and people’s cars being covered with xenophobic and racist slurs. There have already been reports in California involving Muslim women being assaulted in potential hate crimes.
While emotions are understandably running high after the election, allowing divisions to bubble over and become destructive would be antithetical to the spirit of Georgetown. Shouting matches and accusatory remarks do nothing to heal the wounds created by the rhetoric of the campaign season. Students are unable to change the results of the election, but they are able to choose how to move forward.
We must come to see those who disagree with us not as our adversaries. Trump supporters should celebrate their candidate’s win with dignity by not belittling or ignoring the valid concerns and fear of those opposed to the president-elect. Many members of the Georgetown community feel threatened by the prospect of Trump’s America.
It would certainly be disrespectful to tell people of color, LGBTQ individuals, women or any member of a group Trump has insulted to pay no attention to the concerning rhetoric he used in reference to these communities during the campaign. Trump supporters must realize that many people simply do not have the privilege to relax under a Trump presidency. His supporters should instead engage in tactful discussion with these individuals.
On the other side of the aisle, Clinton supporters should recognize that even though they may believe that those who voted for Trump made a mistake, they are not fundamentally evil people simply because of their choice to vote for Trump. Supporting Trump does not directly make someone a racist, sexist or xenophobe, though support of him could indicate of lack of understanding for the troubling values he does represent.
While bigotry should never go unchecked, many of those who voted for Trump were primarily motivated by a distrust of the political status quo and economic grievances. Ignoring these arguments would simply worsen pre-existing divides and prevent the bipartisan cooperation necessary for progress.
Ultimately, it will be difficult for the entire community to agree with each other immediately following the election. This will be a long and difficult process. However, in that process we must never come to violence and vitriolic disrespect against each other. There is a way for our community to avoid the mudslinging and ad hominem attacks that plagued this election cycle, and in doing so, our university will become a more united, civil and respectful campus.