Two weeks ago Tuesday, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The following day was a fairly extraordinary one for this school. Trump’s victory was for many, though certainly not everyone, a devastating, heartbreaking event. Below are several personal stories from Mac Weekly staff members in the aftermath of the election.
Abe Asher ’20
This is a story about me and Spanish; luckily for you all, I will not be attempting to write in Spanish nor will I be attempting to write about Spanish.
But 12 hours after Donald Trump was declared President-elect of the United States, I was sitting in Spanish with 15 other kids, waiting for our professor to come through the door.
Her family — Italian by origin — fled violence in Uruguay for the more stable democracy of Venezuela. She was always interested in linguistics, so, shortly after turning 20, she came to the University of Minnesota to study.
She’s been here 25 years. Teaching, translating and raising a family. It isn’t safe to return to Venezuelam, which plunged into political turmoil shortly after she left at the hands of, in part, a domineering leader promising that the country would return to greatness. It hasn’t happened yet. Minnesota is home.
So we sat there in class, Olin-Rice 270 — after we’d spent the first week of the semester packed so tightly into a classroom on the fourth floor of Neil Hall that “group activity” took on a whole new meaning — just waiting.
She walked into the room at 2:20 on the dot. She stood in front of us having comforted her own crying daughter the night before, and, as if it was so self-defeatingly obvious it needn’t have been mentioned at all, looked at us and whispered, “We can’t have class today.”
Friday afternoon, we were right back at it. Direct object and everything.
Liam McMahon ’20
There are no shortage of moments which will live long in the collective memory of Macalester from Election Night. However, the one which will be forever seared in mine happened while watching the returns come in with my First Year Course, “Rhetoric of Campaigns and Elections.”
The class was littered with Hillary supporters, and a number of us, myself included, did some sort of work on behalf of her campaign. We gathered at Briggs House for what was expected to be an historic occasion. As we all know, that’s not what happened.
Our shock was palpable as the results trickled in. As shock result after shock result was announced, we knew what was coming, but no one wanted to vocalize it.
I vividly remember sitting on the floor doing electoral math and realizing that Hillary had no path to victory. No network wanted to call it, but it was clear there weren’t enough votes left for her to come back. As I told my FYC, a pall fell over the room.
No one knew what to feel. Shock, anger, rage, disappointment and hurt showed in our eyes. I could feel tears welling up in mine. We cleaned the room in silence, attempting to leave it as we’d found it.
I scarcely remember saying anything to anyone. I merely recall doling out a number of hugs, taking off my Hillary sticker, folding up my Stronger Together sign and tossing them in the recycling. That moment will never leave me.
Jen Katz ’19
I spent Election Night at the DFL’s gathering at the Minneapolis Hilton, reporting on it for my journalism course, and honestly, I did a lousy job. From the moment it became clear Clinton wouldn’t win, I couldn’t bring myself to interview anyone; it was clear that we were all feeling absolutely gutted.
I returned to campus and immediately joined a group of friends; however much I wanted to, I did not allow myself to sit alone in my room and cry. We sat in a state of shock, barely able to formulate thoughts. People would walk by and ask how I was, and all I could do was shrug. There were no words for the disappointment I felt in our country and the fear I felt for my future.
In the morning, I called my father and I apologized to him. He immigrated to the United States to escape the Apartheid government in South Africa; he left his home so that my brother and I could grow up in a country where bigots were not elected to public office. I felt that I had let him down.
I hope that, eventually, we do right by my father and every other immigrant in this country.
Hamzah Yaacob ’20
I woke up not knowing if I could leave and enter the country without any additional precautions. As an international student, your ability to return to Macalester hinges on the whims of men in blue—Customs and Border Protection officers at passport control. Will I be singled out because of my Muslim name? I began to role-play scenarios in my head of having all sorts of “curve ball” questions levelled at me. Surely I was guilty of something.
That day we were reporters, reporting back to home as news of President-elect Trump shocked the world. We told our parents and friends of our American peers and professors grieving and crying—feeling like strangers in their own country. Countless friends wished me “stay safe.” My response: “he’s not going to do anything.”
My first reaction when I saw the returns from Michigan was to caress my Singaporean passport. It was my ticket out of a potentially hellish Trump America to my first-world abode of squeaky clean streets, subways and government.
But as I observed the silence at Café Mac that morning, I felt its emptiness foretelling something. I wondered if future cohorts of Macalester students will see fewer international students put off by Trump’s rhetoric. What will this campus miss?