One week after Republican candidate Donald Trump’s presidential win, multiple departments across campus came together to host a post-election forum.
The UCA Counseling Center, Schedler Honors College, Social Justice League and the UCA Office of Diversity and Community organized a post-election conversation during x-period on Nov. 15 in the Student Center. The discussion was titled “Healing after the Election: Conversations for the Soul” that allowed students to express their frustrations and concerns with the results of the election to licensed counselors and UCA staff and faculty.
“This election has left a deep scar on our hearts, our relationships and for some of us, our dreams,” Dr. Whit Barringer of the UCA Department of History said. “If you support the candidate who won you’ve likely seen your relationships deteriorate over the last 16 months. Your views may have left you feeling alone, when you used to feel connected, or maybe they’ve just left you [feeling]more alone than before. To those of you I know who are hurting and scared I say this: This is still your country.”
While some view Trump’s outspokenness during his career and campaign as a virtue, others consider his inflammatory rhetoric as troubling and threatening to minorities. Several students and staff and faculty members expressed their fears and discontents at the recent spike in hate crimes fueled by the election results and the prospect of a Trump presidency.
“Many people think that we’re just being babies, that we’re being children, that we’re being immature and that the right way to deal with a president that we don’t like is to shut up and deal with it,” Dr. Allen Thomas of the UCA Counseling Center said. “Do not fall for the gaslighting attempts when people say that you shouldn’t be upset. Don’t fall for it when they say, ‘I was upset, so now it’s your turn.’ Don’t fall for it when they say that protest is meaningless. Don’t fall for it when you fear being oppressed…Don’t fall for it because that’s the same thing people have done for the entirety of this country’s history, and we’ve got to stop it.”
Staff counselor and LGBTQ and Women’s Outreach Initiatives Coordinator Reesa Ramsahai provided pizza and drinks for the discussion. The counseling center staff gave students stress balls and bubbles.
Some students encouraged others to attend a peaceful rally outside of the Little Rock capitol building on Jan. 21, 2017, the day following Trump’s inauguration. In the past week, protest organizers have sketched chalk messages advertising the peaceful rally on the sidewalks and asphalt of UCA’s campus. The messages read “Be the Change” and “No Matter Who You Are, You Are Welcome Here. Let’s Keep It That Way.”
With the election tension and the oncoming four years of Trump’s presidency, staff and faculty during the post-election conversation urged students to face opposition peacefully and kindheartedly.
“Resist alienating the people who have alienated you. Alienation causes suffering, and suffering hardens the heart,” Barringer said. “Our future depends on who we choose to be right now, and we must defend our fellow Americans. Hardest of all, we must do all of this patiently…Let love, not hate, and justice, not revenge, guide you in the coming years.”