In the wake of Donald Trump’s election earlier this week, America’s overwhelmingly liberal college campuses have been struggling to come to terms with the President-elect. Administrators and professors, many of whom were shocked by the results of the election themselves, immediately moved to offer support to students and colleagues who were distraught by Trump’s victory.
University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, along with several Deans and Department Chairs, sent out emails to students offering support, safe spaces and expressing sympathy to those struggling to come to terms with the results. In an additional show of support, Schlissel also advertised and spoke at a vigil organized by students to express both sadness and fear Wednesday evening. Some professors have also cancelled classes or moved exams to accommodate student anxiety.
Amidst the post-election outrage, conservative students have emerged to support their political beliefs and opinions. While the recent hashtag #NotMyPresident has dominated student movements and populated the social media feeds of many millennials, conservative students at the University of Michigan have tried to claim their own hashtag: #NotMyCampus. As some will doubtless recognize, this slogan was originally employed by liberal peers to mean “no intolerance on my campus”–particularly in response to the racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric of Trump’s campaign.
Amanda Delekta, a student in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, authored an open letter to University administrators also entitled #NotMyCampus. Delekta’s letter describes both her experience with recent events on campus as well as personal feelings of having her conservative views reduced to accusations of racism, bigotry and sexism. Throughout her letter, she calls upon the University to support all of its students and to foster open dialogue and unity rather than divisiveness and hate.
She cites her Wednesday morning class, presumed to be an open forum for post-election discussion. Her professor outwardly criticized voters who supported Trump in the election process, silencing conservative voices and discouraging debate. Delekta told the Michigan Review that she “was inspired to write the letter directly experiencing how the faculty and administration at The University of Michigan chose to foster a polarizing and hateful campus climate following Donald Trump winning the presidential election.”
Amanda Delekta is not alone in her feelings. Indeed, more than 200 students added their names to her letter’s petition and shared their own stories of intolerance on campus, which have totaled more than twenty pages. For many of these students, there is a sense of broken trust from University administration which promised open dialogue and critical thinking but has failed to deliver. Delekta added, “The University of Michigan prides itself on critical thinking and open dialogs but I have experienced closed mindedness and hate in the past few days.”
While the American divisiveness was evident throughout the campaign season, recent days have captured that divide on campus as well. For Delekta, her response to students who do not share her support of Trump is “to engage in the democratic process. Write a letter to a newspaper expressing your beliefs, start a petition, contact your local legislature with ideas and concerns.”