Stocker: How Trump is an opportunity for Northwestern to unite


Alexi Stocker, Columnist

A number of recent events have divided Northwestern’s campus. The campaigns of, and debates surrounding, groups like Northwestern Divest and Unshackle NU were and are controversial. Both divestment resolutions were a central issue in the recent Associated Student Government election. If all that wasn’t enough, the post-election scandal and paltry punishment meted out to ASG president Christina Cilento for receiving, and lying about receiving, voting margins on election day, further frustrated and divided students here at NU. I have spoken with numerous students who have expressed extreme frustration with everything from ASG to the tense political climate on campus.

The solution to NU’s campus divide arrived last Tuesday. With Sen. Ted Cruz’s exit from the presidential race, Donald Trump became the GOP’s presumptive nominee. The following morning Ohio Governor John Kasich quit the presidential race, all but handing the nomination to Trump.

Trump’s nomination offers a remarkable opportunity for unity here at NU. The 2016 presidential election presents the chance to define our communal values by uniting in opposition to Trump’s presidential run. Is it cynical to suppose that the best hope we have of uniting our campus is a common enemy? Perhaps it is, but a common enemy might be the best we can hope for at the moment, especially one as egregious and repulsive as Trump, who can highlight the values NU students from across the political spectrum share. Trump is openly racist. He has called Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” retweeted fake African-American crime statistics from a neo-Nazi and doubled down on his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. The list goes on. Trump is a misogynist with a long history of horrifically sexist remarks. He is unrepentantly greedy, selfish and downright disgusting, insulting anybody or anything that irks him and engaging in very un-presidential verbal skirmishes over his penis size on national television.

Trump’s chauvinism, misogyny, racism and utter classlessness are at odds with the values an institution like NU represents. Our administrators claim they are striving to create inclusive communities. Our student leaders are working to break down barriers of race, gender and class. Too often the fight to create a more inclusive university only deepens its divides. Uniting against Trump offers us an opportunity to work with, rather than in opposition to, one another.

The long primary struggle between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders has divided liberals on campus. The rhetoric of various social justice campaigns and the ASG election have left conservatives feeling alienated. One thing we can all agree on, however, is that no matter our political leanings, we do not stand for Trump’s beliefs. No matter whom we have supported through the primary season — Sanders, Clinton, Kasich, Sen. Marco Rubio or even Cruz  — we can all agree that Trump must be stopped. When the time comes, we liberals must unite behind the Democratic nominee. Conservatives of NU may not choose or want to vote for Clinton or Sanders come November, but I trust they will not vote for Trump. Trump does not represent the values of NU, the GOP or the United States.

Additionally, we can use the 2016 election as a chance to be critical of ourselves. Uniting against Trump and defining ourselves in opposition to his beliefs and actions gives us a lens through which to reevaluate our own behavior. The contentious campus debates of the past 16 months have brought with them their fair share of name-calling and bullying. Bombast and shock-value all too often take priority over critical thinking and nuance. Neither side of these debates is innocent. Trump’s behavior rightly horrifies us; it is time we consider how our own behavior mirrors his, and how we can work to better ourselves in the coming months.

Students here at NU are justifiably concerned about the issues dividing our campus. There are strong differences of opinion on our campus. Let us remember, however, that we have more common values than political disagreements. Some of my fellow NU students undoubtedly disagree with me, and will claim that not everybody in our community is committed to inclusivity and respect for one another. I believe NU can prove I’m right. Going into 2016, let’s focus on our shared values and work together to beat Trump.

Alexi Stocker is a Weinberg senior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.