Tensions high on campus after divisive presidential election

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The quarter moon hung in the sky the night that Brittany Daughenbaugh, a third-year biology pre-med student, was heading down Francis Avenue. She had been unable to sleep and decided to go for a walk while playing Pokemon Go.

Suddenly, she was confronted by two white males: one in a Trump-Pence T-shirt, the other wearing a “Make America Great Again” ball cap.

The last thing she recalls is being punched in the face and hearing mutterings of “Don’t worry honey, President Trump thinks this is OK,” before being knocked unconscious.

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Photo courtesy of Brittany Daughenbaugh.

Her assault was one of many instances of hate-motivated violence reported around the county since Donald Trump’s election to the Oval Office.

While the president-elect has called for unity since his victory, his rhetoric on the campaign trail has lead the worst of his supporters to feel validated in their beliefs and actions.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton have also joined in calls of unity in the wake of what has been perhaps the most divisive presidential election.

However, many on the left have taken to the streets in protest of Trump, demanding that he walk-back his bigoted remarks. Several protests have been organized in Columbus, both downtown and on the Ohio State University campus, with more being planned.

Here at Capital, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) organized a unity march on Tuesday Nov. 15.

The marchers went from the student union to the gate and around campus, carrying signs and chanting things like “love not hate makes America great,” and “the people united will never be defeated.” President Paul also made an appearance at the corner of Main Street, expressing her support.

The march was a collaborative effort between Pride and the Students for the Advancement of African American Culture (SAAAC) in response to recent hate acts committed on and around campus.

In addition to the assault reported by Daughenbaugh, Austin Damman, 18 and a first-year nursing major, returned to his residence hall after class Wednesday Nov. 9, to find a vulgar note on his floor, which included homophobic slurs and proclaimed “Trump will get you!”

“My stomach dropped,” Damman said of the moment he read the note. “I’d never experienced that backlash before, except in my hometown.”

Damman said he never thought this kind of harassment would occur on Capital’s campus, and he has no idea who could have written the note. He also said that Capital has exceeded his expectations in making him feel safe after the incident.

Participants gathered afterword for a discussion of how Capital can move froward.
Participants gathered after the unity march for a discussion of how Capital can move froward. Photo by Kathryn Poe.

When the marchers returned to the student union, the organizers lead a brief discussion. Students expressed wishes to see Capital University staff support more of these functions. Other students said that they hoped to see their peers discussing the situations rather than “tip-toeing” around these tough topics.

“In these dark times, we must stand together,” said Brandon Briscoe-Pope, a senior at Capital, who participated in the march.

“This is Capital University and there’s no place for hate here,” said Naima Elmi, a member of SAAAC and one of the coordinators of the event. “I don’t care who you voted for. I want you to respect people’s basic human rights.”

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States, tensions are high on campus and across the country: protesters have filled the streets of major cities, and reports of acts of hate have increased.

Despite calls for unity from the president-elect and the politically established, many will not accept a president who they view as sexist, racist, xenophobic, ableist, Islamophobic, and homophobic. Trump has a long way to go in uniting people and establishing himself as worthy of the presidency.

As Daughenbaugh stated in a Facebook post after her assault, “Dear Trump, you are the president-elect now. Step up and do your job that you so vividly assured us that you could do.”

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