On Nov. 8, 2016, Occidental students gathered to witness a moment in U.S. presidential history. The Office of Community Engagement, Residential Education and the Office of Student Life hosted an election night viewing event in the Tiger Cooler. The results are in: Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.
For many current students, this presidential election was the first in which they were eligible to cast a ballot. But this election season has been unique to us in ways other than civic rites of passage.
This election, featuring email scandals to pussy grabbing, culminated Tuesday night, concluding one of the most vicious political seasons in American history.
Students watched CNN’s live broadcast on a wide screen. The anticipation in the Cooler was palpable. Some people cried and embraced their friends. Some tried to distract themselves with other activities. Others cheered or booed.
The community gathered around a common interest: the final count. The Occidental community resides in a Democratic state, which was evident in the crowd’s reaction to CNN’s live broadcast of each state’s election results.
There was tension and fear leading up to the final count as students watched the polls ebb and flow. The event seemed to become an exercise in community.
“I’m angry that Trump is possibly going to win Florida and Virginia,” Danny Scharar (senior) said when asked how he was feeling at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Politics Professor Roger George said that he was in attendance after being invited by his students. At that point, he insisted that it was was still too early to tell, but that he did not expect it to be so close.
By 7:11 p.m., the mood had changed; fear and disappointment were tangible.
“I can love a candidate. I can hate a candidate. I shouldn’t be afraid of a candidate. Something is incredibly wrong when I am,” Andrew Huerta (senior) said, commenting on the possibility of Trump winning. “There was a lot of anxiety around, and I wanted to come give support.”
At 8 p.m., students were still in shock, indicated by open mouths and wide eyes.
“I hadn’t really thought about the possibility of [Clinton] losing,” Andrés Sobalvarro (first year) said. “I would be disappointed and sad.”
Yet, even as Trump led 238-215 in electoral votes, Clinton supporters held out hope for the end.
“I thought this was going to be a good night … I’m just trying to be optimistic at this point … I might play ‘American Idiot’ if things go south,” Pablo Nukaya-Petralia (first year), who brought his guitar, said.
There was general disdain regarding a country with Trump as its leader.
“I’m upset about what this country has come to … it shows how racism, sexism, Islamophobia and racism towards Mexicans are all still present in the U.S.,” Florence Matteson (first year) said.
Nearing 10 p.m., it was announced that the projector would be shut off at 10:30 p.m. Students booed, and many left.
At 10:29 p.m., electoral votes were counted at 244-215, with Trump for the Republican party in the lead. Not many students were still present. Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Hillary Clinton conceded.