Andrew Speers, Contributing Writer |
College campuses around the country have erupted in protests regarding the election and subsequent inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. As more and more conservative leaning executive orders are passed, young Americans have grabbed the spotlight of resistance against the new administration. I wanted to see how much of this resistance has bled onto our small campus in upstate New York. I wanted to talk with students openly and honestly to get a sense of how SUNY Oneonta students feel about President Trump, the executive orders, and how the country may look in the next four years.
The first floor of Milne Library buzzed with activity as students hustled in and out of Jazzman’s Café in pursuit of their caffeine fix to either recover from class or find the courage to study. This torrent is where I decided to conduct my first interview. I found Sam Sejan, a transfer junior and Computer Science major, reading at one of the tables. Admittedly, I probably worried him in my awkward attempt to cleanly enter a conversation on such a controversial topic, but we eventually got to talking and I felt he was able to be honest.
He told me how he did not have much of an opinion but that his family are Republicans so he would have voted Trump. However, he told me he “neither liked nor disliked” Trump and that he was a “little worried” about the recent executive orders. “I believe he should implement things slowly so we get adjusted,” he said. “People should protest if it doesn’t work.” Sam then said what seems to be a common theme this election cycle: “You gotta give someone a chance.”
Several students I talked to took on this “wait and see” attitude of the situation. An anonymous student told me that people should “try and keep an open mind” and that “if he can do the job, that’s fine.”
Another student, junior political science major, Mathew Perticone, elaborated on his thoughts. “You can say I’m curious to see what happens, in the sense that I’m wondering what promises Trump will stick [to],” he said.
He went on to express his concerns over the ethics of Trump’s EPA and Secretary of State appointees having ties to companies that stand to profit from decreased regulations and certain diplomatic policy changes.
“Where does the money stop and the job begin?” Perticone asked.
A couple of students even expressed concern over their future job prospects. An anonymous education major plainly laid out her concern for the new secretary of education. “Betsy DeVos scares the hell out of me,” she said.
Another student, Scott, an environmental science major, simply stated that he’s “pretty scared for looking for jobs right now.”
A couple more students made their fear over international relations known as well. Emma is “concerned about our relationship with other countries.” She hopes that the United States can “recover” internally from any policies she believes are harmful but “if you piss off another country and start a nuclear war, you’re not coming back from that.”
Other students have expressed fear for the next four years in relation to newly emboldened alt-right groups as well as questions about Trump and his team’s insensitivity to racial prejudice.
International relations student, Gloriana Mejias, said via e-mail that she “witnessed many of her classmates, who are consistent activists, break down and be scared for their peers.”
Another anonymous student told me she fears the president’s actions, saying “I don’t know if he is going to take my family out of the United States.”
She also told me about an uncomfortable incident in which people on a bus were yelling “Trump!” Similar fears, especially among students and people of color, have been expressed in response to the Trump administration’s handling of civil rights and the growing in media coverage of the Alt-Right. Senior political science major, Natalia Cecilio, expressed her concern over the renewed racial tensions.
“He’s not the danger to the country, it’s who is going to feel empowered by him,” said Cecilio, the spike in hate crimes against Latinx immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans following the election supports this fear.
Whichever side of the metaphorical wall you find yourself on one thing is clear, this will be a rocky four years. The feelings on this campus, and most college campuses, express concern and uneasiness for the future. These are not reassuring words for the road ahead but all we can do is voice our concerns to the government and “see what happens.”