In the hours after Donald Trump was elected president, college and university students throughout the country turned to protest.
Trump has not been a popular candidate among college students. Surveys conducted by campus newspapers found that students at a number of institutions overwhelmingly favored Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Trump. Many students have objected to Trump in part because of rhetoric that has been criticized for attacking marginalized groups.
In the wake of Trump's victory, student protests spread to campuses across the country—from the University of Pittsburgh to Western Washington University and the University of Texas at Austin.
The Los Angeles Times estimates that about 2,000 protestors marched through the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus and into the surrounding neighborhood Wednesday. According to the Daily Bruin campus newspaper, some protestors destroyed a Trump piñata and tried to overturn a car before realizing someone was inside it.
"Things are really raw for a lot of students," says UCLA's student government president Danny Siegel, noting that "some populations feel really threatened," such as Muslim, female, and undocumented students. He says that while there are some Trump supporters on campus, they lack an organized group and are greatly outnumbered.
"The vibe that I've been feeling is that there is a lot of anger, frustration, and feeling like as students we weren't heard," says Stanford University doctoral student Rosie Nelson. "There's also a recognition that the best thing we can do for each other right now is to come together and show resilience." Stanford students rallied on the campus' White Memorial Plaza.
Student activism is as important—and visible—as ever before
Regan Buchanan, co-president of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's social justice group Campus Y, organized a walkout Wednesday.
"I don't know if there will ever be a way to heal from this, but this is the first step," Buchanan says. "We are never going to accept it."
Students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor held another peaceful demonstration, taking part in a candlelight vigil early Wednesday morning and chalking phrases such as "You belong here" and "Coexist" on the sidewalk.
The mood was especially bleak at Wellesley College, Clinton's alma mater. Students who had hoped to celebrate the first woman president instead cried and hugged one another after learning the outcome of the election.
Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, says, "We should not be surprised by the vocal reaction from college students across the country," calling protests "a healthy and productive way for student[s] to express themselves."
However, he says, "It is also important to provide spaces on campus for all viewpoints—both those who are concerned about the outcome and those who are excited about the outcome. Creating spaces for those divergent views will be one of the most challenging in the near term."
Institutions are working to help students during what is a difficult time for many. Some professors at Columbia University have postponed exams, according to the Columbia Spectator campus newspaper. Virginia Commonwealth University's Office of Multicultural Affairs is offering programs throughout the week specifically to help students deal with the election outcome (Knott/Najmabadi, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/9; Svrluga, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 11/9; Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 11/10).
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What the new Congress means for colleges