Tears and frustration filled the Church-Chapel on Wednesday as students and faculty gathered to discuss the results of the presidential election.Provost Ken Newbold opened the convocation, saying that he hoped words of healing and reconciliation would come from the panelists: Jordan Waidelich and Alma Rosa, both seniors, and Ben Wiebe, a third-year student.
“[We are here to] find a way to unify and find a way to come together and provide a place for conversation,” Newbold said.
Waidelich began the discussion, pointing out the anger that has consumed this election.
“We can’t ignore all of the pain and anger in the forefront of our nation – on both sides,” Waidelich said. “Donald Trump was voted president of the United States yesterday. A lot of people are angry… But there are some people who voted for him who are angry too. All of this anger isn’t going anywhere, we can’t ignore it.”
Waidelich then asked students to respond in love, instead of hate and anger: “We can refuse to respond to things we disagree with in a violent, hateful or degrading manner. Most human beings are capable of kindness and compassion in some form, and we can’t lose sight of that.”
Rosa then took the stage, discussing her viewpoint as an international student from Mexico.
“It’s a very scary result for me, as an immigrant,” Rosa said. “Immigration was a very popular topic in this election… I challenge everyone to think about immigration in a different way, because most immigrants come here to seek a better life and better opportunities that we might not find in our country.”
Wiebe then spoke of the effect that Trump’s presidency might have on the environment. Wiebe mentioned Trump’s plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate agreement, get rid of the EPA’s clean power plant and promote mining, drilling and fracking.
Wiebe encouraged students to make the changes they want to see and listed off groups of people who need help, such as the indigenous Standing Rock community.
“No one can afford the right to be complacent anymore,” Wiebe said.
The panel was then opened for comments and questions.
José Chiquito, a first year, and Amy Castillo, a sophomore, both commented on the pain and fear that many students were feeling, as the possibility of deportation becomes a reality with Trump’s presidency.
The panel was then asked a sobering question by Ryan Smith, a senior: How can we expect Trump supporters to participate in conversation when they’ve been criticized so heavily within the Goshen College community?
“It’s possible to have conversation,” Waidelich said, “if we just stop looking at each other by who we voted for and realize there is potential for conversation in love.”