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Nov 16 2016
by Emily Luong

The Aftermath of the Presidential Election: Coping with the Results as a Student in a Women's College

By Emily Luong - Nov 16 2016
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The unexpected victory of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has created growing fears of how such a momentous time in American history will affect the everyday lives of marginalized groups such as people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and women. Looking back at how I have gradually understood and coped with what happened on that fateful day, I am more grateful and prouder than ever to be a student at a women's college where members of the student body have united in solidarity as, one way or another, targets of a Trump presidency.

I remember the night of Tuesday, November 8th as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. At first, I was confident that love and unconditional acceptance for everyone would conquer hate and prejudice. Eagerly refreshing the election results as each candidate accumulated electoral votes, I felt my hope diminish every time a state turned red. As the night wore on and it became clear who would win the presidency. I fought back tears and silently prepared myself for bed — I couldn’t bring myself to stay up until the end. That night, I fell asleep to my housemates on my floor crying in despair.

As an Asian-American young woman whose parents immigrated to the United States for a better life, waking up the morning after the election to realize that the president-elect was someone who despises everything that I represent will go down as one of the darkest times of my life. Grief, disillusionment, pain, fear and anger circulated inside of me, almost preventing me from getting ready for the very long day ahead. But the minute I walked out the door and made my way to class, I realized that could indeed get through this extremely trying time with more than 2,000 students by my side in solidarity.

Students came together as a community.

During my walk to class, the entire campus felt very somber. Gone were the sounds of lighthearted chatter and the general hustle and bustle typical of a lively college campus. With light rain soaking my all-black attire, I walked past students with the same expressions of defeat and hopelessness. In class, my French professor let us use class time to process the election results while trying to lift our spirits by playing French music videos. Around lunchtime, administrators scheduled a gathering where as a college, students and staff offered each other solace to help combat our pain. Later that night, gathered in my house living room, I got to engage in conversation with housemates about the election and what was to come. Knowing that the overall student body and my residential community would be, for the most part, an inclusive space for the next four years, I felt for the first time the powerful effects of coming together as a community during a time of need.

Since the election, the campus dynamic has changed drastically. As my fellow students and I have gotten over our grief, anger and frustration at the amount of bigotry in the country that has fueled a campus-wide Anti-Trump protest, the circulation of several petitions, calls of action to write letters to our representatives in Congress and an open-mic event for people of color to voice their thoughts and opinions have happened. Experiencing firsthand the amount of passion and determination that the student body has in trying to take a stance against racism, homophobia, xenophobia and sexism has made me realize how empowering it has been for me to be a part of this women’s college community. While the college is by no means a completely 100 percent safe haven for all marginalized groups, as the country braces itself for what is to come during the next four years, I wouldn’t want to endure a Trump presidency anywhere else. 

Lead Image Credit: Ted Eytan via Flickr Creative Commons

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Emily Luong - Smith College

Emily Luong is a first year student at Smith College (class of 2020) and plans to major in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. In high school, Emily was the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the school newspaper, an intern staff writer for the local newspaper, and the captain of the swim team. In her free time, Emily enjoys writing short stories, reading fantasy novels, and binge watching TV shows on Netflix. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @emilyjaieluong

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