Students Hold Vigil in Response to Election Results

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.

It seemed obvious that there would be civil unrest and controversy no matter who won the Nov. 8 election for President of the United States. Following the announcement of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s victory early Wednesday morning, frustrated citizens nationwide took to the streets to voice their discontent over the final results.

SUNY New Paltz’s campus played host to such protest outside the Atrium, a rally on campus grounds organized by the Black Student Union against the impending Trump presidency. Passionate students addressed fears of deportation, racism and LGBTQIA+ discrimination as described by Student Association President Yaranny Reynoso.

“I identify as a lesbian, and with that, I have fears about this presidency,” she said. “I am weary of what this government under Trump and [Vice President-elect] Mike Pence will implement.”

During the vigil, a student entered the rallying circle, asking Haitian students to raise their hands. 

“My family worked their asses off so my siblings and I could have an education,” he said. “I have not seen the American dream promised all those years ago in elementary school. I have not seen the land of the free and home of the brave. If you are surprised that this election went to Trump, you have had your eyes closed this entire time.”

Third-year political science major and vice president of the political science club Oren Koralashvili said that many students are interested in fundraising money to hire coach buses to bring SUNY New Paltz students to the inauguration in D.C. to protest.

However, not all vigil attendees were anti-Trump. Wearing his “Make America Great Again,” red baseball cap, first-year computer engineering major Jared Raber received disappointing and disagreeable glances from attendees. 

“I am one of seven in a working class white family,” Raber said. “My father works seven days a week and we barely make our bills. Trump offers a chance to fix our economy.” 

Raber qualified that although he does support Trump, he does not agree with nor justifies any of Trump’s hate speech or beliefs towards the LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants or any other minority group. 

“I’m not supporting Trump to be an asshole,” Raber said. “I am here because I can be here and I am very happy everyone is speaking their mind and saying what they feel.”

Raber said that the college campus is the pinnacle of open thought, and that being asked to leave the vigil qualifies as ideological discrimination. Raber’s twin brother, Joshua Raber, also a first-year and computer science engineering major, expressed that he and others who are “alternative right-wing” give respect to Democrats and liberals but do not receive it back.

Reynoso described those in attendance wearing Trump paraphernalia as triggering to those who are feeling emotionally outraged by and fearful for a Trump presidency. 

“No one cares to hear his opinion in this space right now,” she said. “He is 100 percent entitled to his opinion, but if it’s causing others to feel hurt and frustration in a space they are supposed to feel safe in, I don’t respect that.”

The vigil ended with an invitation to Room 100 of the Student Union Building (SUB) for a panel discussing the issues that underrepresented students may face under a Trump presidency. Protests across the country, both peaceful and contentious, show no sign of slowing down. 

Donald Trump’s term as President of the United States will officially begin on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.