Throughout Northwestern’s predominantly liberal campus, many students were shocked to watch Donald Trump win the presidential election earlier this month.
But it wasn’t just Democrats who were surprised.
“I was really just upset and scared,” College Republicans vice president Julia Cohen said in reaction to the election. “I almost felt like I had to ask, ‘Where does our country go from here?’”
Many students who support Trump, such as College Republicans president Jack Stucky, also said they did not expect Trump to win.
“I was definitely under the impression that Clinton would win in a landslide,” the Weinberg junior said. “I was surprised initially because some swing states were too close to call, but even then, I expected them to go blue.”
Since Election Day, Stucky said he’s been examining Trump’s personality and behavior, maintaining hope he will be “more of a leader than an entertainer” in office. Although Stucky said he has remained optimistic, he said other students on campus haven’t been as hopeful.
“There’s definitely been divisiveness on campus,” Stucky said. “I think it’s going to push people away from the real issues. There are actual issues that are why people voted for Trump, and that’s what we should be talking about.”
College Republicans public relations secretary Sammy Cuautle said he also voted for Trump, despite initially supporting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign. Now, Cuautle wants Trump to focus on calming detractors and uniting supporters, the Weinberg sophomore said.
Although he said he hasn’t experienced significant changes to his own social life, Cuautle felt some of his friends have become more “antagonistic” toward him since the election.
For other Republican students, such as Weinberg sophomore Helen Burkhardt, social lives and everyday interactions have changed as a result of Trump’s victory.
Burkhardt, a self-described moderate Republican, voted for Hillary Clinton due to reservations about selecting Trump. However, because of NU students’ “polarized” attitudes, Burkhardt said she still feels unable to express her opinions as much as she could before Trump was elected.
“I’ve always been excited to engage in political discussion,” Burkhardt said. “But since the election, I’ve felt that if I even talk about positives of a Trump presidency, it wouldn’t be well received. I feel like political discourse between people of different opinions has been stopped by the election.”
Weinberg senior Lauren Thomas considers herself a center-right Republican, but her vote in the presidential election didn’t go to Trump either.
Despite voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson, Thomas said she faced backlash and received “extremely hurtful” reactions from other students for not supporting Clinton.
“I understand people are hurting and are emotional,” Thomas said. “But it’s not okay and it’s never excusable to go out and personally attack others. I’ve been called a ‘misogynist,’ ‘not a feminist,’ ‘racist’ and ‘stupid’ for voting third-party.”
While dealing with criticisms for her vote, Thomas said she has also seen “heartening and positive” understanding from some students on campus.
Looking toward the future, Cohen said it’s important for not only the university itself, but also the nation as a whole to enact strong policy initiatives instead of focusing on emotions.
Cohen said there are two main discussions the NU student body needs to have.
“The most important conversation to have is how are we going to protect minorities, LGBT people and women during the Donald Trump presidency,” she said. “Then we need to figure out where each party goes from here.”
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