Sports columnist Peter King writes a column called 10 Things I Think I think. I am borrowing his format as it is too early to form a cohesive opinion, post-election, but I want to get some random thoughts in writing. Trying to not make this political, actually.
First, I want to share a story from my friend and colleague Melissa Flowers. She is bi-racial and says her white mother has taken heat for supporting Donald Trump. People are accusing her of being racist. Now, you can have racist views even if you are a person of color. Melissa's mom married a black man in a time when mixed marriages were not common nor acceptable and she endured threats of violence as a result. To label, to generalize, and to dismiss others is unfair. Compassion, understanding, and humanity matter now more than ever.
1. I think a college campus is a great place to be during an election: This is the first time for many people to vote; it is where people should be having deep and challenging discussions; faculty experts can illuminate topics/issues with great skill, background, and authority; and finally there is a lot of support for those wanting to process outcomes and discuss with others.They call it rarefied air.
2. The scheduled conversation held on campus the afternoon after the election was really terrific. Thanks to some foresight, this was planned in advance regardless of the outcome (good call, Stacy Davidson). I would have napped and tweeted a picture there, but wanted to respect people's privacy. You would have seen people packed into a room in upstairs Coates. It was gritty and it was raw. Both supporters and opponents of the President-elect were were represented and students were really articulate, emotional, and very candid.
3. Why are people emotional? For many, their identity and worth has been invalidated. The status quo has been reinforced. Privileged, straight white men remain in power. The issue for many is that they are being excluded. People of color, of different cultures, and of different gender identities are scared. If people can't see that then they are visually-impaired (yep). I think we need to work harder than ever to show students every one of them matters. Unless they keep complaining about our food.
4. I think it is interesting to watch campuses across the nation respond as though this were a campus crisis such as a fire, a virus, and active shooter. List-servs are lighting up. Make no mistake, every campus is responding to the concerns and fear of students and employees. This shows that we are in a different place than we have ever been.
5.We didn't ship in a new population of voters this November. What this election did was bring into the light those who agree with the positions of the President-elect and/or who didn't find his style should eliminate him from contention. So while the election result seems like a validation for some - and that invalidation for others - it simply is the outcome. It could have gone the other way. The campaign exposed a big divide. We were going to have to deal with that anyways. Or maybe we wouldn't have. But it wasn't going away.
6. I get it when people worry about the future. Is the person with his hand on the button stable? Will his ego affect his decisions? As a person who denies climate change, will he ignore or reverse progress to save the planet? Does this election tip the Supreme Court toward conservative decisions for decades to come? Is this the end of the world as we know it?
7. Or, do we give him the benefit of the doubt? The current President was undercut from the day he was elected. Why not give this President a chance? Maybe the worst of his hateful rhetoric was simply rhetoric. Well, it could happen.
8. I think this has brought out the best in some of our campus leaders: Danny Anderson, Deneese Jones, Jamie Thompson, Ben Stevens, and students Brenna Hill and Nick Santulli to name a few.
9. I think sometimes the Tigers for Liberty are their own worst enemies. But I think they have a voice we need. They aren't in right field... Well, they actually are, but you know what I mean. Their guy did get elected. I know many of them and they are good people and they shouldn't take grief for their positions or for being excited that they get to see what can happen under the new President.
10. I think that prospective and current students should be nervous. What will happen to federal aid and access? How will this affect diversity on campuses? What will happen to Title IX as it has been interpreted and enforced by our current administration?
On campus, we are moving from processing emotions to processing information, with teach-ins being scheduled. The campaign and the election are not just the beginning. We will have lots to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. I can think of no better place to be.
What do you think you think? Please comment.