After an election that turned politics upside down, students and faculty of John Jay have gone out of their way to make their voices heard.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had the lowest approval ratings in U.S. history going into election day.
In the days following the election, protests of President-elect Donald Trump have run rampant across college campuses and in the streets of major cities, including New York City. One of Trump’s towers, situated two blocks East of John Jay’s campus, drew protests in the days following the polarizing election. Protesters marched in contempt of the President-elect. “Not my president,” and, “we reject the president-elect” chanted rhythmically by protesters.
“The protests have come too late,” mourned Nadia Turnage, a 24-year-old graduate student in the CUNY CAP program. The program allowed students interested in a career in counseling relevant experience, a salary of $10 per hour, as well as eligibility for a six-credit tuition waiver. “If people wanted real change, they would have done so in the primaries,” Turnage spoke from behind the front desk of John Jay’s Wellness Center. Nestled at her post, Turnage greeted each student with a smile.
Turnage supported Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders during the primary season, but pledged her support to Clinton to try to keep Trump out of office. “Bernie had a civil rights background and that’s something I identify with,” she said.
“People who voted Trump are probably a sexist, a racist, a misogynist,” remarked Turnage with anger. “They identify with the hate that Trump spews.” There have been accounts of the President-elect making bigoted remarks in the past and during his campaign.
Minorities have felt targeted by Trump’s rhetoric which has caused many to feel unsafe. Immigrants have worried for the fate of their families after Trump’s claim to deport millions of undocumented immigrants with a “deportation force.” Trump also suggested building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Muslim people have lived in fear of marginalization after Trump suggested a ban on travel by Muslim people to the U.S. which his support of, came into question recently.
Women have felt degraded after Trump made sexually-aggressive comments in a leaked conversation from 2005. The President-elect stated that he could grab a woman by her genitals without asking. This prompted an apology from the Trump Campaign for the first time since its inception.
“I think it’s disgusting knowing that women voted for him after what he has said and the allegations against him,” said Turnage. After the leaked Trump tape, several women identified themselves as victims of alleged sexual misconduct performed by the President-elect.
Inspired by the fear that students and faculty of John Jay displayed, the Office of Student Relations hosted an Intergroup Dialogue. The goal of the dialogue: build empathy and understanding in dealing with the outcome of the election. Students, faculty, staff members, and administration packed the forum room at L.61 in the New Building. During the forum, participants shared their personal stories, post-election.
The Vice President for Student Affairs, Lynette Cook-Francis, facilitated the dialogue and kept order. “Before we can act,” stated Cook-Francis, “we need to understand pain, know each other’s stories, and build empathy.”
President Jeremy Travis was in attendance, Travis announced his resignation, effective after the end of the spring 2017 semester. Although President Travis did not comment at the forum, he released a statement to the John Jay College community in which he promoted its attendance. Travis also remarked in the statement, “this is a very challenging time for our country.” He called for the John Jay Community to provide, “respectful opportunities to bring all voices into discussions.”
Amala Lane, a Senior Video Producer, attended the forum. Lane, a Clinton supporter, was distraught by the results of Election Day. Like Turnage, Lane supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Her support of Clinton came after Sanders lost the nomination in July. Lane described herself as a Leftist and an environmental activist, which coincided with both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns’ ideologies.
“I wanted to vote for the first woman to be taken seriously,” said Lane, teary-eyed. “It’s a travesty for our nation, and it’s something we have to deal with now.”
Lane urged students to remain active in the government and close to one another. “Don’t give up on Trump supporters,” said Lane. “Love trumps hate is true.”
Donald Trump emerged victorious after a 511-day-long campaign. His victory meant the first time someone who has never held an elected office had ever won the presidency.
Almost every poll predicted Clinton riding the wave of her recent support, to an easy victory, however, Democrats, as well as the polling services, were all wrong.
Haider Ali, a senior at John Jay did not vote on election day. “I, for one, am a Republican. My vote wouldn’t have made a difference,” said Ali, a muslim from Brooklyn. Ali is a proud supporter of Trump, who proposed a Muslim ban in the United States. The circumstances of what President-elect Trump has said about Muslims makes Ali a rare case. Ali said that it does not change what party he supports.
“I was pleased at the results. Seeing that my party had won made me proud.” He said with a smirk. “This is what I believe in and if people don’t like it, it’s whatever.”
According to Political Science Professor Bob Capano, the main reason all of the polls were wrong was because Clinton ignored Middle America. “Clinton spent too much time attacking Trump and his supporters personally rather than discussing her policy positions,” said Capano.
“Trump said things that were not right,” said Capano, “but, people were tired of insider, career politicians.” People are afraid of what a Trump administration could withhold. “Trump needs to reach out and try to calm the fears of his incoming administration,” said Capano.
Since Antonin Scalia’s death in February of 2016, a seat on the United States Supreme Court has remained open. President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland has been blocked by the Senate so that whoever had won the election could nominate someone.
“Parts of society are not willing to give Trump a chance,” said Capano. “Like President Obama said: if Donald Trump succeeds, America succeeds.”