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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Post-election panel discussion fosters conversation in St. Joe’s community

Graphic by Krista Jaworski ’17

In the days following the presidential election, many Saint Joseph’s University students and faculty were left wondering what to expect as Republican candidate Donald Trump accepts his position as president-elect.

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity hosted a panel event during free period on Thursday, Nov. 10, inviting members of the university community to make sense of the election results and discuss ways to move forward as a campus.

Many of the presenters spoke to the importance of open conversation during times of uncertainty.

“We need different kinds of places to understand what this means for us and be able to build together,” said Monica Nixon, Ph.D., assistant provost for inclusion and diversity and chief diversity officer at St. Joe’s.

Nixon was one of four presenters at the panel, which included Leslie Schumacher, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of history; Randall Miller, Ph.D., professor of history; Phyllis Anastasio, Ph.D., professor of psychology; and David Parry, Ph.D., associate professor of communications.

The presenters noted that it is important for the university community to be able to acknowledge the struggles that other members—both inside and outside of the community—face, even if it is not something one person experiences directly.

“We have to accept another person’s pain as our own,” Nixon said. “I think that kind of radical listening to one another has certainly been absent in this election, but also absent for a long time. I think that’s where we can begin to build connections and build communities.”

The second half of the panel allowed students to begin building this kind of support through community discussion.

As the speakers settled into different spots around a packed Doyle Banquet Hall South, students moved around the room to talk to the speakers personally, and shared with others their post-election experiences and concerns.

“I think that it was a great opportunity to come together and just realize that there are differences, but bringing it into that self-actualization,” Alim Young, ’19, said. “This is a large-scale representation that decisions that you as an individual make can unknowingly can affect thousands and millions of people.”

In large groups, students discussed the challenges they face and talked about ways to overcome hate in their daily lives. They expressed concern with the way the country is changing and the alienation they may experience as people of color or members of the LGBTQ community.

These stories were eye-opening, according to Christina Ciconte, ’17, co-president of the Saint Joseph’s University Women’s Leadership Initiative, and demonstrated a need to begin making steps as a community to reach out to fellow students.                                    

“We’re all processing shock and grief in our own way, and so hopefully everyone kind of just continues to think, ‘Where do we go now?’” Ciconte said.

This meeting was not the first on campus that addressed students’ impressions of the election. The Women’s Leadership Initiative held a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, where students also voiced their concerns about the future of the country, and found solidarity with each other.

Kalandra Collins, ’19, believes that events of this nature are important for moving forward as a campus, and would like to see the conversations continue to grow in other kinds of spaces.

“I’d like to see more—taking it outside of these closed walls,” Collins said. “I wish that it was more than just us here. It needs to be everyone.”

As these conversations continue to take place, the overwhelming theme, according to Nixon, must be promoting a community of understanding rather than hatred and fear.

“There are lots of people who feel disenfranchised,” Nixon said. “There are people who feel left behind and invisible. Instead of a politics of fear, we need a politics of belonging to one another.”

Young also believes in the potential that students have to move forward when they take part in more group discussions and think about things from another person’s perspective.

“I think there’s a real opportunity to be open to understand, to learn to love [and] to learn to listen,” Young said.

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