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Cal Poly Students Share Their Post-Election Experiences

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

It sent ripples rushing through our campus. Whether you felt its remanence floating in the air or felt its prominence echoing through unrelated thoughts, you felt it. It might’ve been something addressed in class or it might’ve been the elephant in the room when people acted as if nothing happened. You may have felt defeated, almost dysfunctional. You may have felt relieved, hopeful for the future. No matter what your week consisted of, avoiding the subject entirely was simply impossible. The election was characterized by divisiveness and this divisiveness became transparent in our community.

The following statements are from Cal Poly students regarding what their experience was in San Luis Obispo and on campus post-election. 

“So the day after the election was probably the quietest I have ever experienced campus. Everything seemed so dull, so gloomy. It made me sad and sick that our professor had thought of postponing our midterm due to high amount of students that were disturbed by the election results. It was not only my Biology class, but my physics and my English class as well. Almost everyone was in shock and disbelief. The atmosphere was toxic. People were leaving and it made me sick. People couldn’t focus in class. I would look around at all the blank faces and I just knew what was in their head. No one was happy. I personally couldn’t stare at a single person in the eye. When I got home my roommate, who is of Indian heritage, told me that a couple of people in a pick-up truck yelled, “get out while you still can” and that infuriated me. In a weird almost telepathic way it felt like most of the student body was in agreement. We are not a place of hate and we are not a school that supports division. After seeing all the protest on snapchat, I felt comfortable and secure that my fellow peers were on my side.”

-Cal Poly Cellular and Molecular Biology Major 

“Before the election I was hesitant of using my voice before the election, afraid of judgement, afraid of isolation. Afraid of losing relationships with Hillary supporters. Because it was my first time voting it was an incredible experience, I’m prideful of my decision upon voting for Trump, and I support everyone I’m not against anyone, and I stand behind him. After the election I was proud of my candidate, hopeful for the future, hopeful the candidate I voted for will accomplish things he promised. Hopeful that we won’t be a divided nation and that people can accept and love our neighbor just like we should. Not use any violence in any sense. Be a whole nation under one democracy. Hopeful as a college student to not use any aggression towards any Hillary supporters. Be as supportive as possible and optimistic. Seeing all the protesting made me feel good to see people use their voice, I wouldn’t have the courage to march around campus protesting for what they believe in. Just like I was skeptical of telling others I was a trump supporter. I really liked the ideal of others showing their beliefs. In the end Trump will be our president and I hope for good things to come!”

-Cal Poly student

“The result of this election has me feeling nothing short of amazed. I am truly and utterly amazed as to how we, a nation that has made tremendous progress in recent years, can allow and encourage an individual with such disregard for basic human rights to be our president. In fact, no-I don’t only feel amazed. I am fearful. I am a strong intelligent and independent woman who is genuinely and legitimately scared. I refuse to sit back and let history repeat itself because we’ve seen this before and I don’t like how this story ends. I will continue to be loud and stand with my brothers and sisters while exhibiting power and creating change through exercising our right to speak freely.I will not be silenced. We will not be silenced. We will not stand for hatred of any kind (sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc). This is not about defeat over a certain political party. It’s not about losing, it’s about not feeling safe. Hate won’t make us great; now or ever again.”

-Cal Poly Art major

“Since I’m in a WGS class, I was lucky enough to be supported by peers who understood the situation as I saw it. As a minority at cal poly, i often don’t get the same experience/see the world as my peers do. Coming from the Bay Area (super liberal area), it was hard for me to adjust. I think a stand out moment for me was when I sat in my WGS where we discussed what we could do  as students, minorities, young adults, men, women… to combat some of the injustices that will come with Trump’s policies. This moment was incredibly empowering– to know that I am not alone and that there are other people who believe in the same progress as I do was very comforting.”

-Cal Poly Business major

“Experiencing the 2016 US Presidential Election abroad was something I’ll never forget. I’m currently studying at an international school in France, and my class is composed of 15 students from countries all over the world: 7 Americans and 8 from other countries. I have classmates from Iran, Syria, Colombia, Korea, and China.  We were in one of our French classes when the final moments of the election were happening, and none of the Americans could pay attention to class because we were all so caught up in what was taking place back home. Our teacher was aware that all of us were having a hard time not being able to watch the election live, so when the final vote counts were in, he projected the numbers up on the board. I’ll always remember that first moment when the results were out. All of the American students seemed horrified, because all of us understood exactly what had just happened. A few of the international students did too, and a few were a bit confused. A Syrian woman in my class, named Angela, is learning French because she was forced out of her home country as a refugee. Angela is about 35 years old and has two children. They all left their home country of Syria without a choice, and are attempting to pick up life in France together. When the votes were projected, Angela cried out loud in French “please, God no! This cannot be true!”  For some reason, I guess because I represent my home country of America as a student here in France, I felt embarrassed and even ashamed of the United States in that moment. All of the American students were very clearly emotional. Me and two of the other American girls even started to cry a little bit. However, what I will remember most about that day is how students from other countries reacted. How Angela cried out in fear, and how the other international students covered their mouths with their hands in complete disbelief and concern. I will always remember how people looked at me that day. My classmates from different parts of the world looked at me with deep sadness in their eyes as if someone in my family had died. To be honest, that’s a bit how I felt as well. That’s how all of us Americans in my class were feeling, because we felt a sense of responsibility for the fear and shock our foreign classmates were going through.”

-Cal Poly student studying abroad

“I had forgotten about the election entirely on Tuesday. I was immersed in my schoolwork, and was trying to catch up on all the piling assignments. All of a sudden my phone started blowing up with notifications from different group messages all talking about how the election was over and Trump had won. I think, up until this point I hadn’t taken his position in the election seriously because I thought that the majority of people in America wouldn’t vote for someone that vocalizes racist, misogynistic and homophobic opinions publicly. All the weight of the election came down at once and I stopped doing my work. Google said “President Trump” and I stared baffled, wondering how this could have happened. I heard my neighbors in PCV cheering and throwing a party for his win. It then struck me how different some people’s lives are, to have one group of people celebrating their candidates win, while another group feared for their future lives in America- whether they can wear their hijabs, whether they should move out of the country, whether their own friends would ostracize them. I closed my window but I still heard the cheering of my neighbors. I didn’t want to do anything. I just laid there for several hours. I didn’t eat very much the following day but I told myself that the only way to get past this is to not let this affect my mental health. Ignorance is bliss so I delved into my schoolwork again. Now I fight a constant battle between understanding current events but ignoring them to carry on my life as best as I can.”

-Cal Poly student

“I was surprised by the results of the election honestly. I think the liberal media really put Hillary Clinton on a pedestal and made it out that she was going to be a for sure winner. But I wasn’t a fan of either candidate, they both had their faults and shortcomings. Although Trump has a big mouth and his foot has had a permanent place in his mouth, Hillary had her bad points too. I think Trump could really change things in our country for the better. I’m interested to see what will happen with Obamacare, tax rates and removing the swamp out of the political cycle. I think it could be good to have a fresh pair of eyes as our leader, and someone who has not been as involved with politics before. However, I was kinda disappointed with the reaction from students on campus. I saw lots of people preaching peace and love, but very boiled with anger and hate. I just hope everyone realizes that there are checks and balances. People’s basic human right won’t be stripped away. The US has always been a place of freedom and opportunity. I think this is a great time to really become educated on the issues in America from both sides. I’m looking forward to midterm elections which will really show me how Trump is doing as a president. But until then I think that people need to calm down, and accept the situation as it is.”

-Cal Poly Business major

“While the results of this year’s election left me extremely concerned and worried for everyone I know that belongs to a minority group, it was especially disheartening to hear that my fellow female friends in engineering felt that the amount of work they’ve put into advancing themselves professionally won’t matter in the future. My peers’ drive and motivation to become professionals always inspired me to try my best, but the day of election, I constantly found my friends saying things along the lines of, “What’s the point?” and, “Maybe we should focus on our appearance rather than putting the work into getting a degree.” I never thought those around me could be so easily discouraged.”

-Cal Poly Engineering major

“I was in rehearsal during the election night process, so I wasn’t able to keep updated on what was currently happening. My dance professor reminded us that even though it was a historic night in America, our studio is a sacred place that escapes from the negativity in the world. She said that we can all check our phones and be surprised together once rehearsal was done. But until then, she asked us to be physically AND mentally present through our dance and performance. So when rehearsal ended around 10 p.m., my friends and I checked our phones. We saw the large lead that Trump held. We saw the map — which was once an even amount of blue and red — now dominantly red. We saw that the major swing states voted Trump. So, automatically we knew. We knew who our new president-elect was. We didn’t say anything. We just hugged each other. We hugged each other knowing that the man who won was the same man who spewed hate towards some of our family, friends and loved ones. After this night, however, we translated our emotions and passions from this election directly into our performance. We realized how events like this empower artists more. It makes me realize that artists not only have the power to express, but to inspire. So if I’ve gained anything valuable from his win, it’s the knowledge knowing that powerful artists have now been awakened. Powerful women are ready to fight. And if anything, that’s the most exciting part that’s resulted from this election.”

-Cal Poly Journalism major

“When it first became clear that Mr. Trump would be the next president of the Unites States of America, all was relatively calm. I found myself sitting on the couch in the community room of my dorm floor; listening to the laughter encouraged by the Trump jokes. The overall consensus of the group seemed to be disdain due to results of the presidential election. At about 1 o’clock at night I heard “fuck trump” being chanted outside. I had seen the twitter videos of other colleges doing it and it was not very surprising to me that Cal Poly had joined in.”

-Cal Poly Engineering major

“From my experience in Prague, everyone was completely shocked about the outcome as well. A lot of the teachers and staff at my school made it pretty clear they thought Trump was absolutely crazy. The day after the election there just kind of a weird vibe among students (most people I met were pro-Hillary). Our school even held an impromptu “open discussion” for students to come and express their opinions about the results. I didn’t go but it sounded kind of like a support group type of activity. For a while after, every taxi driver or waiter we had at a restaurant always brought up the election results in kind of a joking way like we could all laugh about what happened, but obviously my friends and I didn’t find it funny at all. We were mostly still in shock about the whole thing. Overall I would say the effects of the election still haven’t completely hit me yet since I feel like I’m so far away from everything. All of the social media posts and articles online that I’ve read have been the only thing keeping me connected, but I feel like it won’t fully hit me until I get back home.”

-Cal Poly Business major studying abroad