More than 100 students peacefully gathered at the Bell Tower around 1 p.m. Wednesday to express their concerns about Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who won the election early this morning despite narrowly losing the popular vote.
Students voiced concerns about Trump’s views on women, immigrants and minorities and urged others to turn their frustration into collective action. The crowd grew contentious, but remained nonviolent, when a Trump supporter stood on the platform and took off his jacket to reveal a “Trump/Pence 2016” shirt. The crowd grew to its largest number at this point when passerby were leaving classes, but de-escalated when the Trump supporter left.
“I know too many people who are part of a diverse community,” Jesse Council, a sophomore marketing major, said at the gathering. “I know too many different types of people and a lot of them are discouraged. A lot of them feel like they’re not being heard.”
Christine Choi, an undeclared freshman in the College of Liberal Arts, held a sign that read: “We have taken 10,000 steps back. I now fear for my safety.”
On Tuesday, while polls were still open, students had showed their excitement about Election Day by rallying around Main Campus. Most student-voters simply wore an “I voted” sticker on their shirts.
For sophomore media studies and production major Allison Reitenbach, the results of the election were a relief. She said the Republican party’s views on abortion were a determining factor in her vote.
“Honestly, I was a little excited,” said Reitenbach, who waited more than three hours to vote at the Dendy Recreation Center on 10th Street near Oxford. “I don’t agree with everything Trump said or what he’s been accused of doing, but I believe in the government system … and the representatives … that they’ll work as a whole.”
Shriyash Bajaj, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said he felt scared after hearing the election results and it didn’t go as he expected.
“I thought Hillary was going to win for sure,” he said.
As an international student from Nepal, Bajaj said he fears that his education could be stopped if he were forced to go back home.
“We always get so scared at this moment,” he added. “I have so many friends who are refugees and they are scared, so scared.”
Rachel Sabella spent Election Day writing messages in chalk around campus to encourage students to get out and vote.
“If you have something to say, you have to get out to vote,” the freshman music composition major said as she finished up the final touches of her chalk message. “It’s important for everyone to get out and vote because our election can be very different if everyone voted.”
Sabella, who voted in her first presidential election yesterday, is an intern for the national organization NextGen Climate, which advocates for candidates that believe in climate change. Sabella said she wanted to have Democratic ideals, like women’s rights and LGBTQ equality, represented in the White House.
Other students, like junior geology major Katie Hayes, hold similar beliefs about climate change and used that as motivation to get out and vote.
“As a geologist, I definitely believe in climate change, and I think that we need to do something about it,” Hayes said. “I really want to push an agenda that is going to care about what I care about personally.”
Some students said they had to wait in lines for as long as four hours on Tuesday to cast their vote at polling places like the Penrose Recreation Center on Susquehanna Avenue near 11th Street.
But the lines didn’t dissuade Eamonn Sullivan, a freshman strategic communication major, who waited more than three and a half hours to cast his vote.
Sullivan, a Republican, said he originally supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but he went out to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in this election.
“Even though I’m a Republican, I can’t stand the thought of Trump being president,” Sullivan said. “I’m not with Hillary Clinton, I’m just voting for her.”
Taylor Horn and Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.