Anti-Trump Protests Help to Promote Conversations

By Grace Maute
On November 16, 2016

Photo by Hope Patti

The morning after the election, I laid in my bed in disbelief. Later that day, I was set to moderate an open forum on sexual violence. The event itself was comprised of a panel of administrators who answered questions and concerns relating to Ramapo’s sexual violence policies and procedures, and so naturally many students came to get their questions answered, especially in light of the multiple highly-publicized sexual assaults on campus over the past few years.

24 hours prior, a man who repeatedly expressed misogynistic views and who was accused of multiple sexual assaults, was elected president. It felt hypocritical to stand up there and reassure fellow students that sexual violence is not something that is tolerated on campus when so many people in the country had been able to overlook that in their vote for Trump.

That feeling of betrayal has lasted throughout this week, in which I have tried to process the outcome of the election in light of what seems to be a list of never-ending setbacks.

Immediately following the election, conversations between student leaders were ignited on campus in the hopes of combatting the implications of a Trump presidency, as well as the expected policy changes that are set to begin in January. The main concern was the safety of students on campus, because that was and remains to be one of the most tangible things we can do on campus to protect students.

Although this fear felt obvious to many, numerous students we talked with throughout the day and the days that would come had difficulty understanding why so many students feared for their physical safety.

It became easier to get people to understand the very real negative implications of this election as, according to the New York Times, an increase in hate crimes occurred in the days following the election. Students from marginalized populations on college campuses were notably targeted; one of the most notable examples being the explicitly racist messages sent to many black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania that were eventually traced to college students in Oklahoma.

It is no secret that issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and the like have plagued the country for decades, but Trump’s election has given a clear endorsement to the people that have held onto these beliefs that they are acceptable and can be rewarded eventually.

The most pertinent example of this endorsement of bigotry is the fact that Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, is being considered for the role of chief strategist in Trump’s White House in a nod to anti-establishment supporters. Bannon has been known to use various slurs against the LGBT community and, under his control, Breitbart News published pieces that were notably anti-semitic and nationalistic, among other things, according to the New York Times.

When these aspects of Trump’s campaign and future cabinet are taken into consideration, coupled with the fact that there has in fact been an increase in hate crimes following the election, it is important to acknowledge and validate the concerns of marginalized persons if they express fear following the election.

It is furthermore important to acknowledge that many people on campus hold these fears as well.

Ramapo is not immune to these acts of discrimination and violence, and it is important for the community to take direct action in preventing such incidences in the future.

In a time that seems perilous for many people of color, members of the LGBT community, Muslims and undocumented persons, it is also important to listen and validate an individual's concerns and defend their fears, even if they may not be present in the room.

gmaute@ramapo.edu

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