Campus community offers support after election results

By Amelia Garza, Campus Reporter

Following the shock of the Nov. 9 announcement of President-elect Donald Trump’s win, department members looking to help students who were struggling with the  Election Day outcome provided support to students.

Claire Olszewski, junior business & entrepreneurship major, skipped three classes due to her feelings about the election, but she said she was glad to know her professors understood.

“I got an email from my teachers about how the discussion they had in one of my classes was really positive and productive,” Olszewski said. “[My professor] said she understands if we’re going through anything right now and [said] it’s okay if you need to take a little bit of time off, and that she was available if you needed to talk to her.”

Olszewski added that she felt privileged to attend a school that allows students to discuss their viewpoints so openly.

In a Nov. 11 email statement, the office of Student Health and Support said it has attended to students affected by the election.

According to college spokeswoman Anjali Julka, the news office will issue a statement on the election results in the near future.

Suzanne McBride, chair of the Communication and Media Innovation Department, was one chair who sent an email statement Nov. 9 encouraging all CMI students, regardless of their viewpoints, to reach out to her or others in their department if they are struggling.

“[The email was] a message for everyone,” McBride said. “We’re not trying to single people out but simply to let students know that each of them is valued here at Columbia, no matter how they’re reacting to this surprise result.”

A political reporter and editor for many years at The Indianapolis Star, McBride said she has never witnessed a surprise of this magnitude in decades covering elections.

Sharon Ross, interim chair of the Television Department, said she was also shocked about the results and reactions, which urged her to reach out to her students.

“Normally, I would never send a message after any presidential election, but this was a unique set of circumstances,” Ross said. “I’ve never, in all my adult years, seen anything like this level of distraught people, so I felt compelled to try to offer ways to tell people it will be okay.”

She said that she was aware many students were upset over Trump winning, but there are also students who support him. Even though emotions are quite high, students must treat each other with dignity and respect, she added.

“However you might feel and whatever you might be thinking—especially in the immediacy of ‘right now’—I know I can count on each and every one of you to remain true to yourself and your values while simultaneously embracing the importance of honoring the fact that each person you interact with —even if just for a moment—is worthy of being treated with decency and kindness,” Ross’ email stated.

Ross advised her students to experience their true feelings, talk to each other and channel their energy into doing something to make a difference.

“Don’t be so wrapped up in your own head that you can’t stop to give somebody a hug or ask them how they’re doing or just be kind and open a door,” Ross said. “Do whatever you can to show a little extra courtesy to people, because I think everyone is struggling with the result of the country right now.”