As President-Elect Donald Trump’s supporters celebrate the Republican candidate’s victory this week, University of Maryland women and minority communities are coping with the result.
On a campus that has placed a strong emphasis on embracing diversity and curbing sexual assault, many in the university community are baffled that Trump’s documented attitudes and actions toward populations such as women did not hinder his ascent to the White House.
Robyn Muncy, interim chair of women’s studies, said Trump’s victory was a shock to her department.
“It’s hard not to feel very discouraged and threatened,” Muncy said. “I certainly feel it also confirms the importance of the work that we’re doing as we seek a more just and joyous world for all. I think that the appeal of patriarchy and white supremacy and class division … all of those things are the targets of our thinking and our activism.”
Alanna DeLeon, president of Preventing Sexual Assault, said she was “devastated” that the candidate accused of more than a dozen sexual assault cases — including groping Miss Washington USA in 2013 and bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy” — won the presidency.
“Based on what I saw last night, so many people don’t understand what it means to have rights in this country or what it means to empathize with other people,” the senior behavioral and community health major said. “Obviously the only way we’re going to move forward and make positive changes is to work with the people who are the most ignorant to these issues, and in every way possible, try to educate them, even if they don’t want to listen.”
These revelations about Trump’s mistreatment of women come at a time when this university has been focusing on combating sexual assault. It expelled four students for sexual assault during the 2015-16 year, and university officials announced last month six new Title IX positions following a now-retracted Student Government Association proposal to implement a $34 annual student fee to fund the Title IX office.
Today, sexual assault survivors “have to face the fact that a lot of people in this country don’t take [them] seriously,” DeLeon said. “A lot of people don’t even believe that rape is a real issue.”
However, DeLeon believes there is no time for survivors “to sit back and be sad.”
“Speaking for PSA, we don’t do this because it makes us feel good every single day,” she said. “We do this because there are so many people, so many survivors on this campus and beyond that need us and need to hear once in a while that there are people there for them.”
Not only did Trump win, he also defeated the first woman to win a presidential nomination for a major political party. Hillary Clinton addressed the “glass ceiling” in her concession speech Wednesday morning.
“To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion,” Clinton said.
In addition to his sexist remarks against women, Trump has also been accused of racism on account of some of his statements and policy ideas. One of the most notable is his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration.
About 43.4 percent of undergraduate students at this university and 20.4 percent of graduate students identify as a racial minority or as biracial, according to The Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment. Furthermore, 4.6 percent of undergrads and 33.6 percent of graduate students are foreign-born.
“I’m feeling incredibly disappointed and sad and scared,” senior American studies major Liat Deener-Chodirker said. “Both because Trump will be the president and also because of the fact that so many Americans voted for a man that … wants to build a wall.”
The Jewish community is one minority group that has been affected by Trump’s campaign, which received criticism for anti-Semitic undertones in its final October campaign ad. The leader of the American Nazi Party voiced his support for Trump in August, and on Wednesday, a citizen in Philadelphia found a Swastika defacing a glass storefront window marked with the phrase “Sieg Heil 2016,” referencing a common Nazi victory salute.
“We remain committed to actively helping our students process what next steps look like for our government, our country, and how this impacts them as Americans and as Jews,” Maiya Chard-Yaron, assistant director of Maryland Hillel, wrote in a statement to The Diamondback on Wednesday. “Maryland Hillel will continue our close relationships with cultural, ethnic, religious, and political groups across campus, and modeling what cooperation and partnership between different communities in our country can look like.”
For Chief Diversity Officer Kumea Shorter-Gooden, it is more important than ever for this university to hold fast to its commitment to make all feel welcome.
“I’m really concerned about the impact on [minorities’] sense of security, which then can impact their capacity to participate as a full student or staff member or faculty member,” Shorter-Gooden said. “And so I think it’s really important for us as a university … to reaffirm our very, very strong and deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Senior staff writer Lexie Schapitl and staff writer Kimberly Escobar contributed to this report.