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Trump's election victory - what you should and shouldn't worry about

With US campuses in turmoil in the wake of an acrimonious election, universities and students are concerned about hate crimes and budget cuts
BY Uma Asher |   22-11-2016
Students demonstrate in Des Moines, Iowa, on the day after the US election (image by Phil Roeder, used under CC license)

On November 11, Morgan Sugg, a psychology student at the Pennsylvania State University, was at work on campus when she heard the sound of sobbing. Upon investigating, she found a young Muslim woman, huddled on the floor of a women’s bathroom down the hall, crying. She learned that a stranger had accosted the young woman that morning, calling her “unwanted and worthless”, and after that she had to endure a conversation in class in which she felt targeted, with no intervention by the professor. Sugg wrote a furious post on Facebook: “If you think for one second that this isn't the environment you voted for when you voted for Trump, you did. I am literally shaking from rage… my team has decided to formulate a plan, and to try and make our office (and hallway) a safe, welcoming environment.”

There is no question that US President-elect Donald J. Trump’s victory has brought the bigots out of the woodwork. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an American nonprofit legal advocacy organization that focuses on civil rights, documented 700 incidents of hate in just the week following the election (November 9-16).

40% of incidents on campuses, immigrants most targeted

Trump says he loves Indians, but the ground reality is that they are among the most vulnerable groups in the US. The SPLC reports that anti-immigrant incidents are the most frequent type of harassment reported. If you think campuses, being more educated and diverse, are safe areas, think again – the data show that nearly 40% of the incidents occurred in school and college settings.

Of the 700 instances of hate documented by the SPLC, 206 were anti-immigrant, 151 were anti-Black, 80 were anti-LGBT, 60 involved ‘swastika vandalism’, 51 were anti-Muslim, and 36 were anti-woman. SPLC also recorded 27 anti-Trump hate incidents.

Be informed, and don’t panic

Concern about acts of hate and discrimination is widespread. Understand your rights as an international student, and seek out relevant groups on your campus (organizations for international students, LGBT students, women, minorities, and the student counseling center, for instance) for information, support, and guidance. Learn about campus safety - many campuses have a late-night walking escort service, a network of emergency phones, and other arrangements for your protection and safety at all hours.

If you are the victim of or witness to an act of hate, don’t fear that no one will be willing to hear or believe your story. Always inform your local law enforcement authorities first. You can also report the incident to the SPLC, which is documenting hate crimes in the wake of the election. Its website has a #ReportHate intake form – save the link on your phone. The documentation effort is nonpartisan, which means they will keep track of all acts of hate, regardless of the political views of the perpetrators or victims.

On November 11, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit that works to protect individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution, published a full-page ad in The New York Times warning Trump in an open letter that it would take him to court if he followed up on some of his unconstitutional and unlawful campaign promises, including mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and a ban on Muslims. It is worth noting that the civil liberties watchdog has a century of experience, legal competence, and an annual budget of $100 million.

Budget concerns

Many in academia are concerned that Trump’s presidency could affect federal funding for scientific research, especially given his views that climate change is a “hoax”, even though more than 95% of scientists agree that it is real and man-made.

Harvard University environmental science professor Peter F. Huybers was quoted in a news report as saying that the current situation was similar to when former President George W. Bush decided to limit funding for stem cell research.


Many universities, students and faculty have responded to the situation with calls for peace. For instance, Harvard University president Drew G. Faust decried the “acrimonious words” and “escalating numbers of cruel and frightening incidents” in the wake of the election results. In an email to students, faculty, and staff on November 15, she called for resistance to “hatred, intimidation, and intolerance in every form,” and saying that violence and division “put the very idea and purpose of universities at risk”. More than 350 Harvard faculty members also called on the university to protect undocumented immigrant students.

In Minnesota, even high school students recently turned up in hijabs to show their solidarity with Muslims, who have often been the targets of hate. And on the Yale University campus, students and local residents gathered as part of the national “sanctuary campus” movement, to petition for the university to protect undocumented immigrants.

If you have questions or concerns, please leave a comment below, or email us.



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