At last night’s election party, students packed into the Union to witness the close of a tumultuous election season with Republican Donald Trump emerging as the 45th President of the United States.
The party was a joint effort among the American Enterprise Institute, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Messiah College Democrats, Messiah College Republicans, the Pulse and SGA.
“Being able to work with all the clubs was so instrumental,” MC Democrats President Casey Kerins said. “A lot of people ask how we’re so civil and I think it’s because we purposefully try to work together and bring the whole community together.”
That community was present in full force as students anxiously awaited the results that didn’t come in until early this morning. To pass the time, there were snacks, cake and plenty of coffee as well as a candidate look-alike contest.
“It’s really encouraging to see students here at Messiah being so engaged,” MC Republicans President Kevin Wilcox said. “In years past, it didn’t really seem like there was a lot of political interest here on campus but obviously tonight has proven that wrong and I’m very encouraged to see that.”
Throughout the night it was clear students shared a common interest in the outcome, even if their choice of candidate differed. Scattered across tables and booths were groups of people intently watching the news on the TV or huddled around a computer with live results.
“I think we have a really great political community on campus,” MC Democrats Vice President Tori Bateman said. “It’s always been open to working with diverse groups.”
Those present at the party last night were a sort of microcosm of the nation at large – as the group of students interviewed was split between Trump, Clinton and Johnson. Although Trump snagged the electoral vote with 276 to Clinton’s 218, the popular vote was close to 48% for each candidate, while Johnson snagged 3% of the popular vote.
“I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Trump or Hillary, so I went third party, and I researched it, and I liked Gary Johnson’s views on the military and helping out veterans,” Samantha Subaanha said.
On the other hand, students who voted for Trump cited a few reasons for their support including his foreign policy, economic policy and pro-life stance.
“I voted for Donald Trump because at first, I wasn’t too sure about him, but as I began watching and following the election I realized he’s really strong on foreign policy and protecting our country and he seems to have a good grasp on cyberterrorism,” Brandi Tillman said.
Danny Julian echoed Tillman, “I respect the Republican platform and I respect his (Trump’s) views on abortion and his economic policy.”
However, Abby Troppe decided to vote for Clinton, partly because she takes a different approach to the term pro-life.
“I know a lot of Christians often choose to side with the Republican party because they’re pro-life but I think we need to really examine what pro-life really means. It’s also about how we are valuing the lives of women and minorities.”
Josiah Nisly also chose to vote for Hillary Clinton partly because of her experience and her insistence on a solution for climate change. He said his concern with Trump’s inexperience also played a part in swaying his vote toward Clinton.
“I don’t think a lot of his (Trump’s) economic, domestic, and foreign policy plans would be beneficial at all for America or for the world,” he says. “I don’t think just like shutting ourselves out and focusing only on ourselves is any sort of solution in a globalized world.”
However students decided to vote this election or felt about the outcome, the party as a whole was a success as it brought students together to celebrate a right often overlooked.
“It’s great that we live in a democracy where we’re able to vote,” Wilcox said. “I’ve been looking forward to voting when I was young. It was a great experience.”
I just wanted to make it known that this wasn’t as much of a night of community as it appears to be. Most of the minority students on campus, myself included, left this room to watch the election in the Mulitcultural Office because the atmosphere downstairs became increasingly hostile and oppressive as Trump gained electoral votes. The night started out alright, but by the end of the night we were incredibly divided.