Election Day Rattles Oberlin as Trump Prevails


Pearse Anderson, Staff Photographer

College juniors Jasper Sims (left) and Jesse Docter react to Donald Trump winning the U.S. Presidency at the ‘Sco’s election viewing party Tuesday. Many returned home before the event ended.

Louis Krauss, News Editor

Waves of fear and shock spread across campus Tuesday night as an unlikely reality set in: Donald Trump is going to be America’s next president.

More than 300 students attended the ‘Sco’s election watch party, many of whom sat in tearful silence with head in hands as Trump won every crucial battleground state. Crowds in the ’Sco and Azariah’s mustered occasional cheers when Hillary Clinton took brief leads, but the events eventually ended with students returning home distraught, some loudly commenting, “The world is going to end tomorrow.”

“I couldn’t sleep, and then woke up wondering, ‘Was it all a dream? What will happen to my family?’” College senior Ashley Suarez said Wednesday. “I’m still wondering how so many people, and even people I know, could vote for someone with those sorts of beliefs and language. I have family who are undocumented, friends and Muslim friends who are undocumented, so I worry what this means for them.”

Throughout Ohio, Democrats had little to celebrate, as almost every county voted for Trump outside of urban areas, resulting in a final 52 percent going to Trump and 44 to Clinton. Lorain was very close, with Trump beating Clinton by a total of 388 votes. To put that in perspective, 6,350 Lorain residents voted for third-party nominees, 4,414 of which went to Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Tensions were just as high Wednesday afternoon, as hundreds of students and a panel consisting of six faculty members and administrators met in Dye Lecture Hall to discuss the implications of Trump’s victory. Prior to Tuesday, panelists had thought the forum would follow an easy victory for Clinton and consist of fielding ongoing issues of police brutality and drone attacks. Instead, students came out in droves, fearful of some of Trump’s most incendiary campaign vows, including the deportation of undocumented people and the banning of all Muslims.

Several students from Obies for Undocumented Inclusion held up banners in the front rows with slogans that read “#Here to stay,” and “Undocumented and Unafraid.” The group has been holding teach-ins and symposiums recently as part of its first annual Undocumented Students Week.

Africana Studies faculty-in-residence RaShelle Peck ended the forum on a somber note as she wrapped up her thoughts on how she would reassure her kids after the election.

“I just hope my kid is not the next Tamir Rice,” she said.

Across national media on Wednesday, many pointed to the divide between urban and rural America as a major explanation for Trump’s win. Given that Oberlin is a liberal bubble in a sea of Ohio’s rural, conservative voters, some students at the panel wondered how they could start interacting with Republican voters who evidently felt more strongly about Trump and the election than the polls showed.

“Part of the inconceivable quality of the election is, I don’t know a Trump voter personally, and I can’t imagine someone voting for Trump,” College senior Ariel Miller said. “I’ve tried to think about the issue of uniting our country, like Donald Trump said in his speech last night. But I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to reach across that line. I don’t even know who they are.”

Politics Professor and panelist Jennifer Garcia didn’t have an answer, but said it’s important for Democrats to engage in conversations with Trump supporters because they rarely happen and could reveal why they felt the need to vote for him.

In terms of geographical location, students wouldn’t have to travel far to interact with nearby Trump supporters. The three counties bordering southern Lorain voted for Trump either double or triple the number of those for Clinton.

One of Trump’s supporters is Bobby Deskins, a 19-year-old Lorain County Community College student who lives with his parents — just five miles north of Oberlin. Deskins was not surprised with the outcome, as he considered Trump one of the few who listened to the concerns of middle-class white Americans.

“The media was surprised, but the common people understood what he was trying to say that something in America needs to change,” Deskins said while talking to the Review on his porch Thursday afternoon.

Although he cited personal issues with Obamacare as a reason for voting for Trump, Deskins said Trump’s main appeal is his promise of a drastic change in politics from what has come before.

“It’s just a way to shake everything up, and he’s finally saying what the rest of Americans are scared to say,” Deskins said. “ISIS is a big problem, and you look at the Democratic side, and they don’t want to say anything about it. They say Trump is a racist, but right now the biggest chaos in Black communities is going on, and with a Black president, so it can’t get much worse.”

Deskins was concerned by some of the racist and sexist comments Trump has made throughout his campaign, and hopes that he quickly learns how to act in a politician’s role, something he’s never done before.

“He needs to learn that he’s not a businessman anymore, he’s a politician,” Deskins said. “So obviously he needs to start watching what he says more closely.”

In the student body, Trump supporters are few and far between, but they do exist, and hope that students wait before denouncing Trump as president. Conservatory senior Albert Bellefeuille, who voted for Trump, said he hopes students hold their judgements on Trump until he actually makes some changes.

“I’m sorry so many students feel so alarmed, but I urge them not to,” Bellefeuille said. “Frankly, he hasn’t done anything yet. He’s said things you might not like, but the reaction seems so violent. It’s counterproductive to having a peaceful transition, and I hope people wait until January to come to their conclusions.”