America’s ‘Wild Card’: The next four years with Trump



America’s ‘Wild Card’: The next four years with Trump

By The Columbia Chronicle Staff

History was made Nov. 9 when, with 290 electoral votes, a president with no political or military service experience was elected to office. Without the political acumen that presidents usually enter into the position with, it is difficult to say how Donald Trump will be able to work in Washington, D.C. to accomplish his goals. But, with a Republican-dominated Congress and Mike Pence, a vice president with years of political experience under his belt, Trump already has the establishment assistance needed to move forward. Trump has made many promises along the campaign trail, but many of his policies are still unclear, even now that he has been elected. The Chronicle spoke with experts on higher education funding, Chicago’s gun violence and arts’ funding to attempt to unravel how a Trump presidency will affect these issues during the next four years.


Days after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s win in the Nov. 8 presidential election, his official higher education policy position is still unknown. 

Because Trump did not have an official proposal, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Admissions compiled the comments of Trump’s campaign co-chair Sam Clovis in a May 13 Inside Higher Ed article and analyzed components of the 2016 Republican Platform to piece together what higher education might look like under a Trump presidency. 

The NASFAA analysis identified his opposition to debt-free and tuition-free public college, the rejection of President Barack Obama’s proposals for a state-federal partnership for free community college education and the transition from government lending to student financing through private banks.

Joni Finney, professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education, said Trump’s initiative to move student loans back to banks would hurt students. The future of higher education under Trump is a “wild card,” she added.

“Based on Donald Trump’s history, his inclination would be to privatize student loans and move them to banks,” Finney said. “I don’t think that would be in the best interests of students.” 

Finney added that a recent Trump proposal regarding income-based repayment plans, which would allow the borrower to make payments capped at 12 percent of their income and cancel the remaining debt after 15 years, is nothing new because it is already an option at a federal level for college students. 

“If he wants to expand that, it’s fine, but he’s not really offering anything new,” Finney said.

Twyla Blackmond Larnell, an assistant professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago, said a majority of the electorate was not aware of Trump’s proposals regarding

higher education. 

“Without any explicit policy on how you are going to either forgive or diminish student loans or decrease higher education tuition, it’s a big problem for millennials,” Blackmond said. 

The proposal that could affect liberal arts colleges like Columbia the most involves making colleges determine loan worthiness based on factors apart from family income, such as future earnings. 

“Schools should think carefully before liberal arts majors at non-elite institutions are allowed to borrow based on their future earnings,” Clovis said.

Blackmond said telling students who choose a liberal arts major that their loans will be denied because of the risk of default sends the wrong message because it will continue to make higher education exclusive. A better solution is to decrease tuition costs. 

“Higher education was an afterthought when it came to [Trump’s] presidential campaign,” Blackmond said. “It just lets you know that [higher education] is not really a priority in general. If he was able to do some of the things that he is proposing, I would be quite concerned about the future of higher education.”

 Arts & Culture 

The election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president shocked both the country and the world, raising questions about how the Republican’s policies will affect the country, including the arts community and its funding.

Anne Libera, assistant professor in the Theatre Department who heads the Comedy Studies Program and is comedy director at Second City, voiced concerns about a Trump presidency that extend beyond that community. 

“We’re going to have a lot larger issues to deal with,” Libera said, referring to the low priority likely to be assigned to art education and funding, which is a common Republican position.

With a Democratic administration, Libera said the country would have strengthened support of nonprofit art organizations and theater institutions, but Trump likely will not give the same support.

Trump does not support nonprofit organizations and charitable incentives and is proposing a cap on charitable donations in his tax plan, according to the Americans for the Arts Action Fund’s analysis of the art positions of each candidate. Trump said the federal government should have no involvement in arts funding through the National Endowment of the Arts. Support for the arts should be treated as a local matter, as he said in a March 28 Washington Post interview.

Victoria Hudder, a representative at the National Endowment of the Arts, said it is too early to know how the Trump presidency will affect the arts. After he is inaugurated and picks a chairman and a cabinet, the organization will have a better idea, she said.

While there is nothing in Trump’s platform about the arts or their future funding, he expressed appreciation for an education in the arts and similar critical thinking skills in the Washington Post article. 

“A holistic education that includes literature and the arts [are] critical to creating good citizens,” he stated. 

One part of the arts community, the comedy scene, especially one as vibrant as Chicago’s, will waste no time in using Trump’s presidency and his election as an opportunity for satire and parody, Libera said.

“If satire is taking something [political] to its furthest possible conclusion, he is already there,” she said. “He himself is really hard to satirize.”

While Trump’s actions may provide artists of all varieties with material, the constant decrease of arts funding locally and nationally will negatively affect art communities and diminish resources, Libera said. 

“Truthfully, in a very reactionary presidency, arts are a place where Trump has already shown himself as somebody who does not take being mocked kindly—who takes offense easily and chooses to retaliate,” she said. “[It] sets up a world of censorship that is terrifying.”


Violence in Chicago has  been an oddly prevalent campaign issue for new President-elect Donald Trump. In an Aug. 22 interview on “The O’Reilly Factor,” he said Chicago police need to be “very much tougher” and advised “Fox and Friends” that Chicago needs to utilize controversial stop-and-frisk tactics.

However, Chicago residents are unconvinced that the policies he advocates will help Chicago. Trump’s support of stop and frisk is especially troubling to Chicago Black Lives Matter activist Kofi Ademola.

“If Trump stays true to his word about stop and frisk and is

really going back to McCarthy Fascist, pro-American, anti-black, anti-poor, anti-gay ideology, then he will find ways to enforce some harmful policies,” Ademola said.

Other obstacles to reducing gun violence in Chicago figure in the mix, Ademola said. 

“We can see Gov. [Bruce] Rauner has frozen social services and all the different kinds of resources that will improve our communities and reduce gun violence,” Ademola said. “Also, the Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed over 50 schools and health clinics, and those are what prevent gun violence.” 

Tio Hardiman, the president of Violence Interrupters Inc., an organization that works with the community to reduce crime, said he believes Trump does not have an effective plan to reduce gun violence.

According to Trump’s website, the president-elect is critical of the nation’s current background check system, stating that it hurts law-abiding gun owners while failing to rein in violent

offenders who obtain guns illegally. 

“Few criminals are stupid enough to try and pass a background check,” Trump’s position document stated.

Hardiman acknowledges that the system is imperfect but said he thinks other aspects of the problem require scrutiny.

“Donald Trump needs to do his research,” Hardiman said. “[The problem is] higher-level law-enforcement officials, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, need to do a better job at intercepting the illegal trafficking of guns.” 

Another way to address gun violence is fixing the nation’s “broken” mental health system, according to Trump’s website. It emphasizes a need to expand treatment programs for those who are violent and a danger to themselves and others.

Hardiman said mental health is a serious issue and needs more attention, and it has contributed to the outbreak in gun violence. However, he remains skeptical whether Trump has genuine concern for the mentally ill.

“Knowing Trump, being the showman he is, he is probably just putting it out there to sound good,” Hardiman said.

Ademola said although Trump is perpetuating harmful ideologies, at the end of the day, the Trump presidency would not affect the Black Lives Matter movement much more than a Clinton presidency would because change is up to the people.

“For us it would not matter if Hillary or Trump is in office,” Ademola said. “Our goal is to focus on self-determination and black liberation, and that’s going to be a struggle whether we’re under Democratic or Republican power.”