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American the Beautiful? Going to AU in Trump's America



Since Donald Trump was elected president,  a lot has happened at American University: violenceflag burningracism and general discontent have been some of themes associated with the flood of emotion at  AU that formed as a reaction to the election results. Two weeks later, the aggression that we saw in the first two days after Election Day has dissipated, the dust has settled and everything is starting to go back to normal — or is it? 

I've attended AU for about two and a half years now, and ,walking through the campus, I can understand why people would think that everything is normal. Everyone is still going about their daily lives like normal. From students still squadding up for power study sessions in the Mary Graydon Center to different organizations and clubs tabling on the quad, it's almost like we never even had a major conflict over the election. Students are still out partying and enjoying life in Washington, D.C. The only real visible change around here has been the fluctuating weather. Students and faculty are still getting along to the best of their abilities, and everyone is gearing up for Thanksgiving Break.

While everything may look normal, AU has changed — not in the massive, sweeping way but in a low-key, subtle way. One major change has been across social media. Before the election, someone can open up their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and see people loving their internships, having fun in the city or just watching random celebrities being weird. Since the election, it feels like every other status update or tweet has been about one of the following:

  • Anything along the lines of "Trump will never be my President"

  • People saying they won't calm down

  • Someone un-friending all of their "ignorant fb friends who voted for Trump"

  • Someone reporting on every time Trump has breathed

  • Trump supporters calling liberals "crybabies" and telling them to get over it

I can keep this list going, but the main point is that everyone and their mother has turned this election into a giant social media crusade. Students are really ending friendships over their opinions, and a lot of people's "true colors" are coming out. Twitter fingers have been FLYING lately. But at least we've got one of the greatest memes of all time out of it: 

Another change that has occurred has been in the general sensitivity of the student body. It's weird to think about it this way, but last month, Trump was the biggest joke on campus. I know many people, including myself, who constantly cracked jokes about the latest Trump gaffe on the campaign trail. Post-election, whenever someone says anything about him — funny or not — it's the equivalent of slapping at least half of the room in the face. The tension is real.

A few weeks ago, I was at a party and heard someone crack a Trump joke; the whole party started cracking up. I went to a party after the election, and the same exact thing happened, but I swear the room got so silent you could hear a pin drop. A couple of folks actually left afterwards. People are losing their chill and starting arguments over the smallest things.  Winter break cannot come any sooner. 

What's worse is that people are just being less courteous to each other lately. We went from a fully accepting community to students coming after each other for no particular reason. People aren't even holding doors for each other anymore, and classroom debates are turning into personal attacks. It's not a good look:  people have differing opinions, but that shouldn't make us less decent as human beings. 

Not all of the change has been bad though. One positive change that I've been seeing is that all of AU's cultural groups have been coming out in full force. From the Latin and American Student Organization and Caribbean Circle getting several food trucks on the quad to the Miss African Student Organization pageant, all of the minority groups on campus have been using this period of uncertainty and confusion to come together as one family —it's pretty dope. This isn't just race-related groups either, there have been many events put on by organizations like Her Campus and AU Queers and Allies. 

It is too early to really tell whether this change is going to last. While nobody is running through the quad flipping tables over, this subtle mood change seems like the calm before the storm. One can only hope that this is the last of the post-election blues. But hey, Trump's going to be president. Anything is possible.

Cover: (Common Good/WikiMedia Commons

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