Letter to the Editor: SGA President on the 2016 Election Results
On Tuesday, decades worth of established political precedence were shattered. On Tuesday, the pollsters were wrong. On Tuesday, the nation had an electoral surprise unlike anything we, as a nation, were prepared for – statistically speaking.
The political campaigns of 2016 were nothing short of a bitter contest. We have reached a point as a people of extreme polarization. Many of us were disappointed with the candidates of this election cycle. Some of us, on the other hand, actively engaged in campaigns and felt genuine excitement for our candidates.
The morning after an event of this magnitude is naturally full of emotion. This election is no different. In fact, this election appears to have elicited more emotion than any in our nation’s recent past. But as we go about our days and as we move closer to a Trump presidency, there are some things to keep in mind.
The Student Government Association at Frostburg State University routinely sponsors town hall meetings and debate viewing parties on campus. On election night, we supported an event held by the Office of Civic Engagement to view the election in the Lane Center. We do this because elections matter. Elections have consequences. They are an important part of our civic duty as both Americans and as students pursuing degrees in higher education. Political engagement is a necessity in any functioning democracy, and we strive to emphasize this on campus.
Political engagement comes in many forms. It comes in elections. It comes in movements. It comes in free speech and it comes in protesting. All of these are safeguarded by our American bedrock, our dedication to freedom and liberty and the right to be.
On November 8, our country made a decision. While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, the Electoral College of our country chose Donald Trump to serve as the 45th President of the United States. This exercise in democracy, while unexpected, is sacred by its very nature. Naturally, supporters of Mr. Trump celebrate his populist victory. This is to be expected and respected, just as any other result in any other democratic election. Just as others would have celebrated a Hillary Clinton victory.
And while some naturally celebrate the victory of their candidate, others naturally mourn the loss of their candidate. This is to be just as equally respected. Of particular importance to the Frostburg campus is the concern and fear felt by some members of minority groups, including women, African-American and Latino students, LGBT students, and students of various faiths. It is imperative that we recognize these concerns as valid, given the nature of the 2016 campaign and the often polarizing remarks of the victorious candidate. For many, the election became personal. For some, the result presents a tangible challenge and uncertainty. These students have an equal right to their political objections and deserve an equal platform to speak on these issues.
And we must all act on these platforms in respectful manners. At the appropriate times. With attention to university policy and in ways that don’t destruct campus property or intentionally antagonize.
But in the light of this long, long election season, it is essential that we not consequently fragment as a student body. It is vital that we not dismiss each other – our celebrations or our fears. Our successes or our grief. We must respect our political and cultural differences now more than ever. To not do so is to descend into internal division, to descend into an ugly place where shared government divides instead of unifies. We must not descend. Not as a student body. Not on our student campus.
So as we go forward, be cognizant of this. Remember that higher education naturally brings people of different opinions together to learn from each other – through our experiences and through our freedom of speech. Thus is the nature of the diversity we must celebrate. Be respectful. Listen. Try to understand each other. And above all, be kind.