The Trump Effect

Making America Fear again

After a long and arduous battle between Democrats and Republicans, there finally reigned a victor named Donald J. Trump. Within a week after Trump’s win, the number of hate crimes rose across the nation.

A Muslim teacher in Georgia received death threats from her students; white supremacists started trolling anti-Trump supporters; an elderly gay man in Florida was recently attacked by a Trump supporter; even former First Lady Michelle Obama is receiving racist remarks, being called an “ape in heels.” Trump’s recent success has given an unconscious “green-light” to these hateful people.

In the following week, Chancellor Michele L. Johnson and President Denise R. Yochum sent out a message to students assuring them of their safety and commitment to diversity. “We promote a vibrant economy and to be kind to each other. We have faculty here that teach about these topic areas, counselors, and the advising center that has a list of other resources in the community that can help students and are committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Michele L. Johnson.

Ever since Trump’s electoral win, students have been in a state of stasis. “I was heartbroken” says Muslim student Mirna Ali. “I felt kind of numb to everything, while everyone else was in an uproar. My Muslim friends at Pacific Lutheran University were really shocked by how crazy it was getting.” As an environmentalist, she was also worried about Trump’s stance on the environment. “It’s ignorant for him to say there’s no global warming.”

Pacific Islander and LGBT student Elizabeth Celestial was equally scared. “As a feminist, I felt like we were pushed back. I was very disappointed in humanity. He has publicly said negative things about the LGBT community and women, and his Vice President Mike Pence supports conversion therapy.”

For International students, it’s quite a different circumstance. Chinese International student Zhiying Niu sees Trump’s presidency as a thorn in China’s economy. “The currency for Chinese money(yuan) has already raised almost 10%. This would be bad for Chinese international students because of the currency [change]. Chinese students may choose other countries to study instead of America because of economic reasons.”

International education faculty have seen similar reactions from their students. Both ESL instructor Christina Cox and International education faculty member Marc Hobbs noticed how much tension was in the classroom.

“We had a free-write and where some students from Saudi Arabia felt their education would be affected and would feel unwelcome if Trump was elected. One girl mentioned that if Hillary was a man, she could’ve won” said Christina Cox. “We have countries that depend on our military strength” said Marc Hobbs. “So that greatly affects them and their education.”

For other international students, the election is the least of their worries. “Some of the African international students I know are not worried. America only has four years, in their country it’s thirty years” said Mirna Ali. “The South Korean international students are already occupied with their own election,” said Marc Hobbs.

And change is what the people are seeing. Immediately after Trump’s election win, citizens across the country have organized anti-Trump protests. In response to Trump’s remarks against minorities and the recent protests, people have offered a safety pin in place of an olive branch. After the Brexit movement in Britain, social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, people have started a “Safety pin” trend where they wear a safety pin to indicate that they are a safe person to talk to. English professor Curt Warmington is one of the many allies who wear the safety pin.

“If you are an ally of someone you may not have walked in their shoes, but you try to and want to be supportive. Wearing a safety pin is sort of like saying this is a safe area, safe to talk to me and with that I think comes responsibility to try and create that zone of safety.”

With the support of people like Curt Warmington and other Pin-wearers, LGBT students like Derek Dungca and International students like Zhiying Niu can feel some solace after the election and are determined to maintain hope and stay vocal. “We are a big community and we are going to fight it, we are not going back into the shadows again,” said Dungca. Veteran and student Kamye Osborn has an important message for scared, numbed, or frustrated students:

“We need to take the time to process, and see what we need to do to come together and raise awareness and raise a consciousness of this country. We have to meet the negative energy with the positive energy not with more negative energy. Stop meeting narcissism with narcissism , but meet narcissism  with authenticity, humility, and kindness.”