I don’t think anyone would deny that it has been a rough couple of months since the election. Thinking back to the atmosphere of campus last semester, there seemed to be a sharp decline in community after the election. Campus seemed extremely quiet and polarized the week after the election and, from what I could tell, never fully recovered.
It seems like students on both sides of the aisle feel equally polarized from each other, but for very different reasons. Sophomore Emily Troyer, who is on the board of the DePauw Republicans, she wishes that other people on campus knew “that Republicans are not spitting images of Donald Trump—if he said something racist or did something sexist that does not mean we support this behavior.” She also feels like many conservatives on campus do not feel comfortable expressing themselves because of the “apparent intolerance for an entire set of political ideals.”
On the other hand, liberals, and specifically members of groups that were targeted during the election, such as immigrants, Muslims, and people of color, are also very unhappy with the general campus climate. Senior Nancy Huynh, who has consistently organized social justice events on campus, admits that “political conversations have been more hostile,” but also believes that the University needs to do more. She believes that the University’s neutral stance after the events of the election is not helping to heal the campus community, or reassure students that they will put their safety and well-being before all else.
Based on my conversations with Nancy and Emily, and others on campus, there is a consensus that the general election negatively affected campus climate. My hope for the students at DePauw, and the people in this country, is that we can find a platform to start a conversation about what Donald Trump’s presidency means in terms of our personal lives, DePauw, and the future of America.
Please don’t get me wrong- I am not preaching for acceptance or normalization of Trump’s statements. But he has officially been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States- that is reality, unfortunately. The selection process has ended and we have to decide what to do as a campus community and as a nation. This could mean vowing to keep demonstrating, refusing to normalize hate speech, or making a conscious decision to hear and be heard. We can only be successful if both sides feel heard and respected, and it’s pretty obvious to me that neither side feels respected, heard, and definitely not understood. I have a lot of opinions about why this is, but unfortunately I have no solutions to the problem. I know I am probably just stating the obvious here, but sometimes the facts need to be repeated for the action to start. I hope that healing is possible for this campus, but it’s up to everyone, especially DePauw’s Administration and Student Life, to make that a reality.