Support networks activated after election

Following the news of Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election early Wednesday morning, support networks across the college were activated as students, faculty, and staff worked to absorb the results of the election.
The Women’s Resource Center, the Intercultural Center, and the Black Cultural Center all offered spaces for students and community-members to gather and collect their thoughts.
Sarah Caitlyn Dobbs ’18 spent the early evening on Wednesday night at the Women’s Resource Center, where she found some temporary respite.
“The energy ebbed and flowed. When I walked in, Nina Harris was boiling cinnamon and cloves, and it smelled lovely, and she was baking cookies, and for the first moment, throughout all of this, I felt safety. Not safe in the situation, but safe enough to begin to progress in the grieving process, whereas previously, I was just distraught,” said Dobbs.
Being in a space of people who primarily identified as women offered some catharsis to Dobbs.
“We were all very raw. We found the courage to laugh, and the next minute, we were crying all together, and the next moment, we were talking. Everything was tinged with sadness and pain, but [the WRC] was a refuge,” said Dobbs.
Director of the Intercultural Center Jason Rivera stressed that, as the election results unfolded on Tuesday, and as the impact of the results continue to be felt, it is critical to provide resources through spaces such as the Intercultural Center, where people can process their thoughts and emotions.
“I think students should be able to go to the spaces where they identify and feel comfortable — where they feel safe. The most important part of what we do as an intercultural center is provide a space where we can support one another, honor and lift up the voices of unique experiences, and allow for people to come talk through those experiences.”
In addition to the various centers on campus, the Dean’s Office hosted an all-campus collection at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Friend’s Meeting House, where community members expressed grief, bitterness, fear, and hope in the face of a presidency that many believe to be symbolic of a burgeoning white nationalist movement, hostile and dangerous to people of color, women, disabled people, indigenous people, and queer people, among others.
Formal events such as the collection were accompanied by expressions of sensitivity and solidarity from faculty. The Phoenix received reports of professors canceling classes, citing lack of sleep, and many students’ awry states of mind. Many classes also supplied a space for discussion and contemplation about the election, regardless of the subject of the course.
Words of support were also voiced by some members of the administration. In an email sent to the college’s RAs, anonymously obtained by the Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas, assistant director of residential communities, acknowledged the important role of RAs under such circumstances, and offered his own support.
I was at a viewing party last night watching the results with higher education colleagues of mine. I could not get you all out of my mind, as well as many of our Swatties, when the results came in. I know enough about Swarthmore to imagine that many (not all, but many) of our students, and many of you, may be struggling with the overall results and how to process,” said Thomas.
Thomas invited the RAs to an optional meeting at the Office of Student Engagement for reflection on how to support their student communities. He also advised RAs themselves to practice self-care and seek out resources such as CAPS if necessary.
While many students sought support and reflection on campus, some left the college for a different kind of catharsis. On Wednesday night, a contingent of Swarthmore students attended an anti-Trump march in Philadelphia where hundreds of people, mostly students, protested the election results and the two-party majoritarian political system. Chants of “enough is enough” and “not my president” were heard across the city.
Leo Elliot ’18 attended the rally.
“It felt very good to walk and shout, but it is only the first day. The crowd was mostly college students and very white. It seems like we will need to come up with answers very soon. I think everyone needs to be listening to each other, and looking for opportunities,” said Elliot.
As students and members of the community continue to feel the effects of the election results, campus resources, both formal and informal, will continue to provide space to students who need it.
For Dobbs and others, these resources must meet the needs of a student body whose emotional process is multifaceted and evolving.
“I feel like, as a white woman, I have one day, and then, tomorrow, I’m back in it. Tomorrow, I have to act.”

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