More than a week after the 2016 presidential election, the University of Maryland campus is still buzzing with passion, intensity and emotion from both sides of the political spectrum.
From a strictly historical standpoint, the election of Donald J. Trump was unprecedented. Both his lack of government or military experience and his blunt and often highly controversial campaign rhetoric make him stand out from the first 44 American presidents.
Some students find these aspects of President-elect Trump to be thrilling, arguing that Trump is an outsider who can shake up Washington, bring back jobs and end the culture of political correctness. Others, however, are angered and frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency, claiming that his campaign was fueled by racism, xenophobia and intolerance.
Student groups who wish to speak out against the president-elect’s policies and attitudes have hosted demonstrations on campus this week. From protests outside of McKeldin Library, to emotional emails from President Loh to Thursday’s walk-out and subsequent march, it is clear that Terps have a lot to say this week.
Michael Brennan, a sophomore government and politics major, is one of the leaders of UMD’s Our Revolution chapter and helped organize several of the events. He expressed his dismay at the outcome of the election, predicting that the impending policies of a president Trump would be “horrible.”
“It’s definitely hard to remain optimistic with four years of Trump at the helm of the world,” Brennan said. “But it is impossible for me to just sit around and be upset about it … We need to make our voices heard.”
One demonstration outside of McKeldin this week was hosted by Preventing Sexual Assault, one of UMD’s on-campus advocacy groups. Alanna DeLeon, the president of PSA, said she was inspired to hold the anti-sexual violence rally in light of Trump’s “disgusting” comments about women.
“It’s really, really dangerous,” she said. “As someone who has been working with PSA long before Trump, however, I think it’s still an issue, no matter who the president is.”
DeLeon expressed her gratitude that this election has brought topics such as misogyny and sexual violence to the forefront of political discourse, and said she was glad to see so many people turn out to support her cause.
“I kept wanting to ask them, where were you before this election?” she said. “Where were you when we’ve been doing this for a year, where were you at our meetings this week?”
While frustration and anger are clearly prominent emotions on campus this week, there are also plenty of students who were excited and pleased with the outcome of the election.
“I am ecstatic,” said Spencer Blankenship, a freshman in letters and sciences. He said he felt confident in Trump’s ability to choose a powerful, qualified cabinet to lead the country in the right direction.
“I respect people’s opinions and their constitutional rights, but I don’t really understand what they’re protesting,” Blankenship said. “I don’t really see what their goal is.”
In his email to all UMD students, President Loh emphasized the need for “civil discourse, respectful listening, and empathy for diverse views.”
“As is emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States,” Loh wrote, “E Pluribus Unum — from many, one.”