Post-election listening sessions held

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor | [email protected]

Some students across campus, particularly those who supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, are still coming to terms with Donald Trump’s upset victory. Social media lit up late Tuesday night in both celebration and despair as it became obvious Trump would capture the presidency.

Northern Iowa Democrats President Jack Ave simply put, “I have no words,” on his Facebook page after Trump’s victory.

UNI hosted three sharing sessions last week to give students and faculty an opportunity to help students cope, discuss and vent. The listening sessions also provided an opportunity for Clinton supporters and Trump supporters to come together, discuss their differences and begin moving forward.

“Our goal was to open a place in the minds and the hearts of everyone who participated, no matter how they voted, no matter their political affiliation, to hear the other side – to engage, honestly, in deep listening to understand a point of view different than their own,” Interim President Jim Wohlpart said.

The sessions, led by Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Jan Hanish, took place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on campus. The Northern Iowan attended Friday’s session in the Presidential Room in the Maucker Union. There were about 30 in attendance, with students and faculty coming and going throughout the session. Both Clinton and Trump supporters were in attendance.

“Fortunately, we were in fact able to create this open space of democracy, where many different perspectives were respectfully shared and where individuals had the opportunity to learn and grow,” Wolhpart said. “We heard from students, staff and faculty afterwards that we needed to do more of this kind of healing work on our campus so that we can come together as one community.”

In the days following the election, there were a number of alleged discriminatory incidents on campus that were reported on social media.

Wohlpart addressed these incidents, saying, “We do not tolerate this kind of interaction at the University of Northern Iowa, as it demeans and diminishes other human beings and, as a result, our entire campus community.

“It is everyone’s role to speak out when they witness this type of interaction and to let individuals know that this is not who we are as Panthers. When incidents such as these occur, we all become something less. We should be striving, in all that we do, to be more, to be better, to dream big about our future and to come together to make that dream come true,” Wohlpart said.

Clinton and Trump also began the efforts to bind the wounds in the aftermath of the election. Trump stated during his victory speech, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; we have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Clinton followed up Wednesday morning during her concession speech, saying, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

Trump will remain president-elect until Jan. 20, when he will be inaugurated into office.