College students, Huntsville residents reflect on election

In stunning fashion, the Electoral College dealt a loss to presumed presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton early Wednesday morning as key battleground states fell far from poll predictions. 

Securing the most electoral votes than any Republican president in nearly three decades, brash businessman Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the office after a long, tumultuous campaign season that often saw politics overshadowed by mudslinging. 

Key battleground arenas in North Carolina and Florida, which seemed to trend toward a Clinton win, cut her path to victory short as early voting numbers trickled into Trump’s column as he notched victories in Ohio and Iowa, as well.

States like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which have backed a Democratic president for nearly a full generation, also turned red as Clinton underperformed expectations in nearly every key demographic. 

As early as the primaries, one important demographic was the millennial and college-age voter block, which helped push Obama to commanding victories in 2008 and 2012. The polls showed early on that they were again set to play a big role in 2016. 

Students on the Sam Houston State University campus reflected on Tuesday’s election results. 

“I think it is going to bring up more conflict. I think people are going to start to show their true colors,” sophomore health science major Kenya Kabadan said. “I’m just waiting to see what happens, because I know he stated that he was going to do a lot of outrageous things — banning Muslims, deporting people and building a wall. People who voted for him based on that, I’m waiting to see their reaction over the next four years. That is not something you can really accomplish; it’s not going to get done.”

Given Trump’s often derogatory rhetoric on women during the course of his campaign, female voters were especially vocal in both opposition and support. Sophomore chemistry major Ashley Dee voiced concerns over the fate of women’s rights over the next four years. 

“My first thoughts as a college student, I was definitely concerned over my social rights as a young, millennial white woman who is currently trying to get her undergraduate’s degree,” Dee said. “I was like ‘Wow, are my rights as a woman going to be affected?’ If I get into the workforce when I graduate with my chemistry degree, am I still going to be hired and treated as an equal within the work force, or am I going to be degraded even more within the work force and not being taken seriously? I feel like there is a lot of pressure under the millennial age group. I think this motivates us to be better individually instead of us having to be dependent on our government.” 

Protests erupted Wednesday on college campuses across the country. Students at the universities of California at Santa Cruz, Irvine and Oakland, along with the University of Texas at Austin, University of Oregon and others were protesting Trump’s win. 

Sam Houston senior general business major Hassan Tariq reflected the emotions of the opposition with a simple, “We’re screwed.”

Senior accounting major Tre Smalls, however, had a more positive outlook on the billionaire’s possible effect over the next term.

“It’s America and America is going to be America. I feel like we, as a people, will pick who we think best fits and that’s what we did,” Smalls said. “I feel like he is going to run the White House differently. He is a businessman, not a politician, so it’s going to work more like a business.”

While the American public begins to digest a Trump victory, conversations quickly turned to how parents would be able to explain his win to their children. Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees member Karin Olson Williams described conversations between her daughters after news broke of his victory.

“Last night, while watching the election returns, my always very sensitive 12-year-old began to cry in disbelief,” Olson Williams said. “I didn’t realize at first that she was crying about the outcome of this election. She said, ‘I don’t understand how this is happening’ and I told her that I don’t understand it either, but that it is a reflection of distrust in the other candidate and of the desire many people have for change for our country after eight years of Obama’s presidency.  

“I also told her that I will hope only in our next president’s success and that our country will come together and become better than it ever has been, but not ‘great again’ because there is too much hurt in our history. 

“Today I feel disheartened to discover that so many fellow Americans were able to support someone whose words and actions I find so unacceptable. I can understand the difficult choices we make when we vote, but I cannot understand how Donald Trump has become our president when we have held celebrities and athletes to higher standards regarding their words and actions. Words matter. Our words reveal the thoughts of our hearts and lead to actions. 

“Today I have shared hugs with people I work with and talked about what this means to me and to us and to marginalized people in our country. I will continue with great hope that his leadership will be better than I fear and good for our country, even though it is hard for me to believe that this will be.”