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Six Days After Trump, Students and Faculty Reflect

In the six days since the 2016 presidential election ended, students and faculty members have expressed differing perspectives—all primarily negative—on the election of Donald J. Trump. Many are protesting the results, some fearing the future, and others working to mend the divisions within the country. Faculty and student groups across Boston College are hosting discussions, holding open houses, and emailing students to invite them to vent, reflect, and debate.

This afternoon, Eradicate BC Racism is holding a “Stand Against Hate Rally” in the O’Neill Plaza. The rally will begin at 4:30 p.m.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the rally is meant to stand in solidarity with students who have been “victimized or continue to fear the prospect of targeted violence” following the election results.

“In the face of such hatred, neutrality is acceptance,” the event’s Facebook page said. “None of us can afford to opt out. It’s time to permit ourselves to take a stand.”

Eradicate is planning to give students the opportunity to speak at the rally as well.

Throughout the last week, over 200 faculty and staff signed a letter to the editor that encouraged students and staff to engage in discussion concerning the election. According to the letter, faculty members hope that the country’s differences in political ideals will not lead to bullying, intimidation, or intolerance.

Several academic departments held forums for students to discuss the election and sent out emails addressing the results.

On Friday, students met with a group of faculty members from the history department to discuss the Trump presidency.

“In this case, respecting all opinions is a catch-22. There is no precedent on how to approach it.”

—Allison Adair, an English professor at Boston College

At the meeting, students and faculty expressed disdain for the media’s coverage of the election. Many students felt that major outlets did not adequately inform voters, as many news sources chose to focus on covering the scandals and rhetoric of each candidate rather than their policy proposals and platforms.

Some students noted a tangible difference on campus since Wednesday. Several expressed that they now, more than ever, do not feel welcome at BC. They think that the election of Trump demonstrates that many Americans hold values that contradict the supposed foundation of the country, like discrimination against minority groups.

Andy Boynton, the dean of the Carroll School of Management, sent an email to students on Nov. 11 acknowledging the powerful emotions that many students are feeling. Boynton noted the current divide in the United States and encouraged students to use discourse, thoughtfulness, and compassion when dealing with sensitive issues.

He urged students to engage positively and compassionately with one another, regardless of the differences that many may face.

“We do so in the spirit of Boston College, which calls on each of us to search for truth, wisdom, and understanding, and to act reflectively and respectfully,” Boynton said in the email.

On Monday afternoon, Gregory Kalscheur, S.J., the dean of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, also sent an email to MCAS students regarding the election. He noted the Society of Jesus’ goal of “reconciliation based on justice, faith, and solidarity with those most in need.”

Kalscheur encouraged students to take into account other people’s feelings and emotions before passing judgement.

“In the midst of our nation’s divisions and questions, I pray that all of us in the Boston College community will be open to the call to contribute to the work of healing and reconciliation based on justice, faith, and solidarity,” he said in the email.

Allison Adair, an English professor, posted five fliers throughout Stokes South on Friday afternoon, signing her name as an ally for students feeling upset or scared from the results of the election, and encouraging students and faculty who were also allies to sign it.

Adair had heard several stories of discrimination and hostile acts toward students both on and off campus. She wanted to figure out a way to help students on a small scale. Adair was also frustrated that neither the University nor the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences released a statement on the election. In response, Adair decided to post the fliers. She also posted the fliers out of concern that many of her first-year students may not necessarily know where to go for support if they need it.

Adair did not request University permission to post the flyers around campus.

So far, Adair has not received any emails from students who found her information on the fliers.

Adair, however, has been meeting with students from her classes who want to talk about the elections. She also allowed students who were interested in talking about the elections in class to do so, but she said there is no criterion on how to handle a situation like this.

The English department is hosting a meeting this week with BC graduate student teachers to help them navigate classroom discussions about the election. It is hard to tell them what to do because many of the faculty don’t know exactly what to do, Adair said.

“In this case, respecting all opinions is a catch-22,” she said. “There is no precedent on how to approach it.”

English faculty members are also holding a discussion for English students, faculty, staff, and administrators on Monday from 12 to 2 p.m. in McGuinn 521. The department wanted to provide a space for an open discussion.

In addition, the environmental science department is hosting a forum at 4:30 p.m. on Monday to discuss how a Trump presidency may affect climate change and the environment in the coming years. John Ebel, an earth and environmental science professor, noted in his email invitation that there are no definite answers available, but the event will give students and faculty the chance to voice their opinions.

Several student groups have also reached out to students, providing spaces for people to reflect on the election and share their concerns.

The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) released a statement Sunday afternoon reaffirming the organization’s mission of creating an inclusive campus community. The statement encouraged students to contribute to the exchange of active and critical ideas, while maintaining compassion and empathy.

“Yet the right of students to feel safe on this campus and in this country is not up for debate; the right of students to feel welcomed into, and included in, our campus community is not up for debate; the right of students to discover and develop their authentic selves free from fear is not up for debate.”

UGBC executives said in a statement

UGBC also said that it is students’ responsibility to stand up to bigotry and intolerance, despite the election results. The statement stressed the Jesuit mission of being “men and women for others.”

“Yet the right of students to feel safe on this campus and in this country is not up for debate; the right of students to feel welcomed into, and included in, our campus community is not up for debate; the right of students to discover and develop their authentic selves free from fear is not up for debate,” the statement said.

The Graduate Pride Alliance also held an event titled “Here’s to Us” on Sunday afternoon. Graduate and undergraduate students who are a part of the queer and allied community met to co-process the feelings and events following the election.

In response to the hate that has followed the election, the organizers of “Here’s to Us” hoped to celebrate “identities, worth, and existence.” Attendees were provided with a safe space, filled with tea, coloring books, comfort food, and music.

On Monday at 6 p.m., the Campus Activities Board is holding an event titled “The New President’s To Do List,” in which political science professors David Hopkins, Kay Schlozman, and Shep Melnick will discuss the election. Students will have the opportunity to hear the perspective of experts and ask questions concerning the results.

Schlozman, who has been teaching a class called Parties, Elections, and America, said that she hopes the event will help students become better citizens. She hopes to take an analytical approach to assess the results.

“Obviously this is a big surprise, but it turns out there are things that follow analytical trends,” Schlozman said.

Updated: Nov. 14, 3:41 p.m.

Featured Image by Leo Confalone / Heights Staff

November 14, 2016

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Six Days After Trump, Students and Faculty Reflect”

  1. “Differing perspectives”?
    Now that there is very, very funny.
    Not only does a Lefty perspective dominate the discussion, but it seems faculty and students are all working from the very same, utterly limited vocabulary: Racism, hate, rhetoric, victimized…
    blah, blah, blah.
    You’re at college, kids! Read a book or two. You all sound exactly the same.

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