Culture, Science & Faith

A Blow to the Snowflakes' Self-Esteem

College students nationwide are having a hard time coping with Trump.

Michael Swartz · Nov. 11, 2016

On college campuses around the nation, horrified students stayed up into early Wednesday morning and stared in disbelief at the fate that had befallen them: Hillary Clinton would not be the president to make their college free and enforce political correctness on the non-campus “real world.” Many who desperately sought a “safe space,” though, were accommodated in other ways by faculty and administration who shared their angst.

For example, those staring at a Wednesday exam in one Yale introductory microeconomics class were allowed to skip it, with the unnamed instructor noting, “I am getting many heartfelt notes from students who are in shock over the election returns.” University of Maryland astronomy lecturer Alan Peel went even further, cancelling a Wednesday exam. “Given that the nation in which you currently reside decided last night to elect a president whose own words have painted him a moral and possibly physical hazard to many of us,” Peel said, students could not muster “the monumental effort necessary to accept what must be a personally threatening election result.”

“Our class is very diverse,” said one Peel student, who recommended that “a bit of grieving time” would be in order. And many colleges provided the space to grieve, opening up jars of Play-Doh and coloring books to those students who felt the “unspeakable shock at the manifestation of hate and bigotry that is on par with how people felt when Orlando happened, when Charleston happened,” as one director of multi-ethnic student affairs hyperventilated. Another campus hosted “support and community” gatherings in several locations: their American Indian & Indigenous Community Center, Black Cultural Center, Hispanic Latino Cultural Center, LGBTQ+ Center, Multicultural Center, and Intercultural Engagement Center. (That seems to cover all the bases of the aggrieved.)

Taking the prize in the snowflake sweepstakes, though, was the group of Cornell University students distraught enough to hold a “cry-in” despite the cold and rain. A Cornell student who is co-president of the campus group Planned Parenthood Generation Action noted that much of the campus “never seriously contemplated” a Trump presidency. “Two weeks ago,” she said, “the co-president and I jokingly said ‘Oh, we need to do something if Trump wins,’ but never actually thought that would happen.”

But you also had the students who needed the space to destroy stuff, such as those who burned flags at American University, just a few miles from where Trump will be inaugurated in January. While these loud campus protests paled in comparison to larger gatherings led by left-wing groups around the country since the election results became known early Wednesday morning, they’re reminiscent of the anti-Vietnam War protests that rocked colleges nearly 50 years ago.

Naturally, as with any good institution of higher learning, there are others who are skeptical of the whole thing. “I am sure that these support services were never provided after previous elections, and certainly not in 2008 or 2012,” said University of Michigan-Flint economics professor Mark Perry. “And if the outcome of the election had been different, I am confident that either no emails would have been sent out to the campus community, or they would have been announcements for post-election campus celebrations.”

College students between the ages of 18 and 22 have little to no recollection of 9/11, although they likely remember the media-fueled unpopularity of George W. Bush. Clearly, they were hoping to have the same sort of celebration from Hillary Clinton shattering the “glass ceiling” that their older siblings had when Barack Obama was elected to usher in a post-racial America. Instead, they came of age at the other end of what has been a relatively regular eight-year cycle since the end of World War II, as Republicans and Democrats trade places in the Oval Office. Apparently these children are processing a normal electoral transfer of power the in same way they’d cry about getting clothes for Christmas instead of the video console they wanted.

We are reminded, though, that “Donald Trump is going to be our president — we owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” After pinning their hopes and dreams on her leading up to Tuesday, students don’t seem to be listening to Hillary Clinton’s words now.

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