Students respectfully clash at post-election forum

By Lauren Lavelle and Thomas Regan

With the Rider community divided by the results of the presidential election, student organizations continue to try and repair the disconnect.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs presented its third Conversation Café on Nov. 15 to provide the Rider community with a safe space to discuss issues in America. The atmosphere was constructive conversation rather than the destructive arguments seen on social media and heard around campus.

Since the election, Public Safety has had two students report being verbally harassed, university spokeswoman Kristine Brown said.

A male student told Public Safety he was verbally harassed by three unidentified men while he walked out of the men’s locker room in the Student Recreation Center on Nov. 8.

On Nov. 9, a female student reported being verbally harassed by a white male on the Lawrenceville campus. Both incidents are under investigation.

In an effort to generate positive conversation, this forum honed in on the aftershock of the election and students were given the opportunity to voice their opinions on the newly elected leader of their country.

“I was very happy with the results of this presidential election,” said freshman political science major Nick Mezza. “With Donald Trump becoming the new president, I feel like we’re going to have a dealmaker with the best wishes of the country in mind. I think this is not as bad as we’re making it out to be.”

Freshman musical theater major Sheldon Steele had an opposite stance on Trump’s new seat in office.

“If Hillary won, no matter what, she never had a negative influence on the country,” said Steele. “Politics aside, there was no moral imbalance in Hillary’s campaign. Speaking from a minority standpoint, it was a shock to my community as a whole and sent me for a loop.”

Although both parties were represented during the discussion, there was minimal conflict and each group agreed to share their views of the election.

“I was in a state of shock that I think most of America was in,” said freshman filmmaking, television and radio major Paige Ewing. “I realized, though, this is our Democratic process. He was elected because Americans actually did elect him. I think it’s time to start recognizing the people that did vote for him and to start seeing their point of view. He’s going to be our president, we have to accept that.”

Graduate business administration student Shanza Arooj was doubtful after the results but, like Ewing, would rather fight to come back together as a nation than continue to oppose the new leadership.

“Being a Muslim woman, post 9/11, I had all my guards up,” said Arooj. “Although it seems like we are progressing, discrimination and racism do really exist. This election was an eye-opener because we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Time after the election was spent talking to my family, my children and my peers about how we are going to get there and how we are going to listen and open a dialogue between the two divides that do exist right now in the USA.”

To close the forum, Director of Multicultural Affairs Pamela Pruitt left the room of Rider faculty, staff and students with a few words of wisdom.

“Ride the tide,” said Pruitt. “Stay above the water and stay positive. You have local legislators and if they are not doing their job, get them out of office, you have the power to do that.”

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