Trump, a Few Days Later

There are many students who remain distraught due to the results of Election Day

A week after Election Day, the nation and the Harvard community are still coming to terms with the historic election of Donald J. Trump. Unprecedented in his role as president-elect, Trump ran a campaign that indiscriminately espoused hateful rhetoric. We condemn the racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry that Trump has embraced. His election to office now legitimizes them in the national mainstream. In the wake of this divisive presidential campaign, moving past his election in a day or even a week is not feasible for many students on this campus. More time is still necessary for them to settle.

There are many students who remain distraught due to the results of Election Day. While it would be wrong for administrators and faculty to presuppose all students are upset with the president-elect, we encourage them to recognize, with continued consideration and support, the students who are under distress. Similarly, students who supported Trump must seek to understand the shock and indignation still ripe on this campus that is causing many students to shutter themselves from others’ opinions.

A vote for Trump may not mean a person wholly embraces his philosophy, but nevertheless, it means that they were able to overlook the odious rhetoric that directly threatens livelihoods of marginalized groups in order to cast a vote. As much as Trump supporters would like their voices to be heard—and as much as they deserve their voices to be heard, as we have affirmed—they must be mindful of other students’ open wounds and approach them with respect and compassion rather than skepticism.

This sympathy should extend to students’ reactions to protests. While nothing can change the result of the election, the expression of pain and anger through protest should not be dismissed as pointless noise. Protesters, both on and off this campus, believe that a president-elect who espouses racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry is an injustice, and are exercising their freedom of speech. We must allow them to use their demonstrations to demand that Trump, his supporters, and the rest of the country be held accountable to their needs and values as well.

We would be remiss to ignore the painful truth that, as students on a traditionally liberal campus, few of us expected or even seriously entertained the idea of a potential Trump presidency. In failing to grapple with that possibility, many of us lost touch with the majority of Americans outside of Harvard’s gates. The so-called Harvard bubble has become disconcertingly insular, and students must confront the biting reality that Harvard’s predominating bias does not reflect the views of the entire nation. It is important to have a dialogue, however stilted and difficult it may be at first, where students are truly considering all perspectives, hearing all voices and not just affirming each other’s liberal ideas and shutting contrary opinions down—because, as evidenced by Election Day, Harvard students are not the only people who have a say in this nation.


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