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The Carletonian

Students hold rally to protest Trump

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-a1ac7776-544f-f87f-5902-22e2ebf8060a">After seeing Donald Trump get elected the night before, students on Wednesday gathered for a rally in front of Sayles to process the result and to discuss what options the community has going forward.

The majority of students who live on campus voted at the United Church of Christ located across from the Weitz. Results from this precinct showed overwhelming support for all Democratic candidates on the ballot, with 91 percent voting for Hillary Clinton, 92 percent voting for Congresswomen Angie Craig, State Representative David Bly and State Senator Kevin Dahle.

“I believe the rally was spontaneous,” said Seth Hanselman ’17, one of the rally’s principal organizers. “I was at the Twin Cities DNC party when Ohio was called, and it seemed to me like the reaction of most of the people there was to either get drunk or insist that Clinton still had a shot at winning. I was not interested in either option: I think the Right is going to assume that we will spend the next couple of days in disarray, and I think we have to accordingly act against that inclination.”

Hanselman then reached out to other campus organizers via Facebook, and the rally was soon put together.

“We have a strong activist community on this campus and I think the first reaction of many Carls to learning about a Trump presidency was channel our grief and fear and anger into organizing,” he said.

The rally consisted of 13 formal speeches, which touched on a wide range of topics, from what the appropriate response is to the Trump election, the dismantling of reproductive rights, the tenuous status of immigrants, the destruction of queer and trans rights, our status as members of an elite liberal arts institution and the increased danger for people of color. Overall, speakers conveyed messages of practicing self-care while simultaneously igniting a fiery oppositional spirit. After the scheduled speakers, the mic was opened up to anyone from the Carleton community to voice their opinion.

Many students’ speeches were informed by their personal identities and reactions to what a Trump presidency would mean for them.

“As someone whose body has been grabbed, touched, shouted at, commented upon, raided, raped and legislated upon without my consent, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so unrecognized as a human being,” said Erin Healy ’17. “It scares me that I know violence is being done to us, to every person here, and that we’ve just voted for more of it, and that I don’t believe in being violent back.”

Tiffany Thet ’17, CSA president, said, “As a woman and as a person of color, I feel a tremendous sense of loss and a tremendous sadness and sense of hopelessness. Today, of all days, we now know exactly what type of America we’re living in, and now that we recognize the problem, it’s up to us to change it.”

Sharaka Berry ’18 said, “I am not willing to give up what my ancestors sacrificed for me to have. What that means is, even though we may have lost the battle, we’re going to pick ourselves up, we’re going to get up tomorrow and the day afterwards, and we’re going to work.”

Several students also grappled with what to do going forward.

“We’re holding onto a lot today, and I’m still figuring out how to process what happened and how this country could do what it did last night, but it’s in these moments that we have to come together and stay organized and stay united and connected,” said Miko Zeldes-Roth ’18, who is also the head of Carls for Hillary.

Sarah Trachtenberg ’17 said, “All of our emotions are valid right now. This was not really predictable, and what is going on right now is different, and so the ways we react are going to be different, and we don’t know necessarily what the best way is to organize, and what the best way is to make change, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Sam Neubauer ’17 said, “What this election reveals to us is the pervasiveness and the depth of the problems in this country. It is easy to run away from that, but it is not really an option that we can hold, and so we need to think about how can we engage in this struggle for the entirety of our lives? How can we commit deeply to creating social and political change? And I ask that as we do that, part of that is opening ourselves to love.”

Some mentioned specific policies in which Carleton students could affect change.

“The scariest thing about the Trump presidency in my opinion is the potential for anti-choice Supreme Court nominations, where the real battle for reproductive choice will be happening in the upcoming years” said Rinya Kamber ’17.

Others described the power that college students have and should exercise.

“I worry that we underrate our importance,” said Hanselman. “What is Carleton College, along with any other college or university or academic institution in this nation? It’s a point of production for the bourgeoisie in the capitalist mode of production. That might be unfortunate, but the points of production within the capitalist system are also the most vulnerable parts of the capitalist system, and I think it’s time for some noise and some ruckus on this particular factory shop floor.”

Thu Nguyen ’19 said, “Protect each other. Protect the students that can’t protect themselves. Protect everybody in this community that is unable to have a voice because of their status as a citizen and as an immigrant.”

Students also reflected on how to approach the idea that Donald Trump garnered nearly half of all votes.

“Not everyone who voted for Trump believes all the bigoted things he encouraged,” said Jackie Culotta ’19. “They voted due to frustration with the economy and because they felt left behind. We can’t send intolerance if we’re fighting intolerance.”

Maddie Goldberger ’19 said, “Trump supporters are not the right target of our anger because a lot of them are hurting too. I think this is a really important time to advocate for all the issues we’ve talked about, but also really to push for economic justice to make sure that everyone has a union job that will protect them — that will protect their family — because that’s how Donald Trump won.”

Ibad Jafri ’17 said, “I still have that shred of optimism that I know that there are a lot of people out there who probably voted for Donald Trump yesterday, and I don’t think that they’re unpersuadable. I don’t think that they would want to hurt me if they knew me, and I make that effort to talk to them. I do that not because it is easy but because it is hard and because I have to.”

In an interview, Hanselman qualified the rally’s importance.

“In terms of radical change the rally in and of itself means nothing. What it did do however was demonstrate that there is a broad and popular front at Carleton that is upset about this election and is ready to move against it,” he said.

Indeed, general campus sentiment echoed the caring solidarity that the speakers at the rally expressed.

“We should accept Trump’s election as the outcome of the democratic process,” said Laird Bell Professor of History Harry Williams. “But, just because we respect the outcome does not mean we have to support or endorse all of the policies, and some of the outrageous authoritarian ideas … that he put forth during this long nasty campaign. I think that there should be a cross-generational opposition to Trump’s policies that are antithetical to some of the cherished values and ideals we hold as American people.”

In an interview, Thet contextualized the results of the election.

“This wasn’t just about not winning a contest. This was and always has been about two very different ways of seeing the world. I believed in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects … It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people.” Thet said. “[Donald Trump] ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation—and that’s the vision of the world that has been chosen.”

Barbara Allen, a political science professor who also spoke at the rally, offered a way to explain what seemed to be a surprise victory from Trump.

“The polling data might not have reflected what was truly happening in the public mind,” Allen said. “There was the potential for what Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called a ‘spiral of silence’ in which people censor themselves regarding their true opinion about some phenomenon … and they speak about what they think is the popular choice because they fear social isolation.”

Allen also agreed with Williams in encouraging people to accept the election results as valid.

“Any protest that would happen would not be a protest about the legitimacy of the Trump victory … What a protest has to address is when each kind of actual policy measure comes forward, if there is something to say to legislators … then that’s where the protest has to happen,” Allen said.

In an interview, Trachtenberg pointed to resistance that is already under way.

“If there’s anything to believe in, it’s the revolutionary ways that people are coming together in community right now. There is something beautiful in the number of people I hugged today, the ways we took care of each other Tuesday night, and the ways we are all continuing to support our friends and especially our friends holding marginalized and targeted identities. This in itself is a form of resistance,” Trachtenberg said.

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