An email from President Brennan O’Donnell to the college community highlighted a plan to help students and faculty talk through one of the most divisive and negative presidential campaigns in American history.
In the aftermath of the election of President-elect Donald Trump, who is the first person elected to the executive branch of the federal government with no government or military experience, people have staged protests and demonstrations across the country against the real estate mogul.
“I understand that uniting together and finding common ground may not be easy, but it is vital to respect our democratic institutions and laws,” the email from O’Donnell on Nov. 10 said.
Voters aged 18- to 29-years-old overwhelmingly voted against Trump, who repeatedly came under fire for incendiary remarks, especially concerning Mexican immigrants, Muslims and an off-the-record conversation with NBC’s Billy Bush where he said he had engaged in sexual assault of women.
In his email, O’Donnell attached a link to a full schedule of events, beginning on Nov. 11, through Nov. 16, to provide students and faculty a forum to discuss their feeling on the presidential election.
Colleges across the United States have cancelled classes and offered counseling for students who are both dejected at the failure of Hillary Clinton, the first women ever nominated for president by a major national party, and angry at the election of Trump, who lost the popular vote but won 290 electoral votes as of Nov. 10.
“It is also vital to provide an inclusive community, respect all people, embrace concern for the poor and maintain faith in the presence of God,” according to O’Donnell’s email. “As we have done in the lead up to Election Day, we are committed to preserving a safe and civil environment for everyone.”
Among the scheduled events at Manhattan College is “An Hour of Unity” on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m., for all students to gather on the steps of Smith Auditorium in solidarity.
“The recent election and its results have fractured our country,” the MC website says of the event. “We, at Manhattan College, in line with our value of having an Inclusive Community, want to ensure that our campus does not become divided as well.”
On Nov. 16, Henry Enten, one of the marquee political columnists for FiveThirtyEight.com, will discuss the outcome and the results of the election in Hayden 100 at 5 p.m.
Some students, like Isabelle Leyva, said the email and forums from the school were not enough of a statement to stand with students displeased by the results of the election.
“The school had a responsibility, like a lot of schools did, to send out an email that said ‘We stand with Muslim students, we stand with female students, we stand with LGBTQ students,’ and they didn’t do that,” she said. “They tiptoed around it. That makes me very disheartened to be a member of this community.”
Leyva, who is working with a group of students to form an Anti-Bias Club on campus, added she was unsure of the turnout for the events announced by O’Donnell.
“I think the people that are like-minded will show up, and the people that aren’t won’t,” she said. “When we have racial justice meetings, the only people that come to those are the people that care about racial injustice, so there’s no discussion with the wider campus, which doesn’t care about those issues.”
Rose Brennan contributed reporting.