It Was Not Expected: A Reflection on the U.S. Presidential Election Result

By Chris Musick, Associate Vice President for International Affairs

Chatham Students' Walkout on November 2016
Chatham Students’ Walkout in November 2016

“Shock” might be the best word to summarize the result of the United States presidential election.

While many people in the United States are feeling optimistic about the next four years, many others are feeling targeted. The xenophobic and vitriolic statements made by the US president elect have caused anxiety among different nationalities, racial and religious groups, and genders in the United States and abroad. There is a legitimate fear that the president elect’s words have empowered hate groups in the United States. There have been reports in the United States of increased episodes of racist graffiti and harassing verbal attacks on minority groups.

Emotions have run high across the United States in the days following the election. Many students at Chatham have openly expressed their disillusion, confusion, anxiety about the future. Faculty and staff have been contemplating the implications and ways to provide support to students.

There have been open forums at Chatham in which students expressed their thoughts, feelings and concerns. There have been on-going, mostly non-violent, protests across the country and in Pittsburgh. Chants of “Not my president!” are heard. As I write this, a 15-minute “walk out” is planned by Chatham students at 3 pm to establish Chatham as a “sanctuary campus.”

Dr. David Finegold, President of Chatham University, wrote in a statement to the campus community the day after the election:

“Regardless of what happens in our daily politics, I hope that here at Chatham we can continue to focus on our core values: gender equality, inclusiveness and acceptance, dialogue and civic engagement, and the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. That is the community we want to create and the values we seek to foster in the classroom, on campus, and that we hope our students carry with them after graduation. Over Chatham’s nearly 150 years, we have persevered through many profound political transitions and societal changes, and I’m hopeful that we and the country will weather this one too.”

International students have been witness to an unusual American election. They are seeing both good and bad traits of the United States. The experience is educational and is one they will long remember.

The new president of the United States will take office on January 20, 2017. As an educational community, we look forward to learning about the changes to come. Chatham will continue to be an accepting environment for all students regardless of nationality, religious beliefs, gender orientation, race or political orientation. We are a community in which ideas are shared in a tolerant environment that is supportive of human dignity and equality.

Chatham will continue to provide the highest quality education to international students in a safe and protective environment.

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