This is democracy: Students speak out on election

Beatriz Verneaux, Co-News Editor

Around campus this past week, many Santa Rosa Junior College community members exchanged thoughts on the election of Donald Trump to the presidency and shared their expectations for his administration.

Students, faculty and staff expressed opinions that range from pessimism to hopefulness, but for many there is an underlying tone of fear and astonishment. Several members of the community who spoke with the Oak Leaf this week asked that their views remain anonymous.

One faculty member said, “It’s horrible. I’m Latina, and it scares me. A lot of my family is here, and even if we’re here legally, [Trump] has issues with Latinos. All of my undocumented students are having a hard time with it.”

Others hold onto hope. One student draws parallels between Trump and Ronald Reagan, and believes Trump may prove to be inefficient in governing.

Marina Franceschi, an economics student said, “It was my first time voting. I think it’s disappointing.” With 69 percent of Sonoma County voting for Hillary Clinton, Franceschi says she feels out of touch with the rest of the country.

18-year-old Glen Taggart seconds the sentiment. “[Trump’s] idea of change seems to be led by anger and fear. I’m also worried about long term issues, especially the climate. He doesn’t believe in climate change; he believes vaccines cause autism. It’s scary to have someone in the office who blatantly refuses to acknowledge science,” said Taggart. “It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.”

Taggart fears a new Bush era is to come, with scientists not being able to come forward with information on climate change. “He talks about cutting down a lot of government-funded programs. Science is hard to make profitable, even though it provides a lot of benefits to society. It makes sense to socialize it. But if you don’t have the government doing that, it’s harder to make it work.”

Taggart concluded, “Climate is a public good, and as a country with so much wealth, it’s our job to help others.”

Another SRJC student studying environmental sciences believes Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt. “He needs to get a chance to lead the country and see what he can do instead of [people] rioting and destroying the country.”

He believes Trump alone can’t make environmental decisions, since he’s is just a figurehead and not the ultimate decision maker. “It’s up to us, the people who run the environment department. He’s just there to guide our country to wars and interior things. Environment is for the people to take control of.”

A biochemistry student echoed the hopeful sentiment, saying Trump is a different kind of politician. “I’m actually really surprised that he became president. I’m surprised so many people voted for him, especially Mexicans, black people, and even women.”

“Him and Bernie Sanders are different, outsiders. And since Sanders wasn’t running anymore, a lot of people went for the only different person who was left, and that Donald Trump. He’s ambiguous, and for a lot of people it might have been very exciting,” the student said.

A biomedical engineering student said he doesn’t appreciate what Trump, says but that citizens need to listen to voices other than their own. “You can’t oppress that many people; they have that opinion for a reason. Either we let them vent, or we educate these people somehow.”

A materials engineering student expressed his disappointment with the election results and fears people will feel the ramifications for a long time. “But there’s nothing we can do right now other than kind of wait and see. As problems happen we need to fix the damage.”

Jeffrey Perrone, 19, says the presidential vote speaks to deep divisions in our nation, and compares with the Brexit vote in Great Britain.

“These are people who are alienated to the establishment, and they want to kick the establishment in the butt,” Perrone said. “I think to a big extent they’re not bigoted in anyway, they just need to be aware of what’s going on.”

A psychology student said, “I am not shocked, but fearful. As a woman of color, the behavior that’s going to come up from the woodwork—it’s absolutely terrifying to me. Pence is scary for LGBTQ and women’s rights.”

Another student believes the president is just a figurehead, and that the real power lies with those behind the scenes. “We elect the president, but we haven’t elected the people we don’t see, not only running our country, but running the world. The majority of the money, the 1 percent in the world. I don’t feel like presidents do as much as they seem.”

Others standing in a group with this student agree that Trump comes from a different world. “All the money he’s got. He’s already on top. He gets to see a different view from what we see.”

Jaxon Cantu, 20, an English major who did not want to give his last name, says Californians are in a bubble. “It’s even hard to conceive that people in other parts of the country take a different stance in things.”

Cantu adds that he believes radical reactions to the election results are not in good taste. “I understand, but we can’t change the past. If anything, we have to do our best to at least come together, try to align ourselves to who’s going to be our leader. We can’t cling to these petty things he’s done in the past, and even yesterday. It’s not conducive to really move forward. Trump has said questionable things in the past, but he’s stressed unity and acceptance in his speech. I hope he aspires to live up to that.”

Will, who declined to give his last name, believes it’s necessary to maintain a vision of peace, prosperity, and love going forward. “I don’t want to see people fighting too much. People like him will bring fight. I wish we didn’t have to stand up for ourselves,” he said. “This is not the time to fall asleep again.”