Andover Community Left Shaken After Trump’s Unexpected Election

When CNN projected that Donald Trump would win Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, at around 1:30 a.m., Carra Wu ’17 knew that it was over for Clinton, her preferred candidate. As recounted in an interview with The Phillipian, Wu was frantically refreshing “The New York Times” paths-to-the-presidency web application in her room. After losing the swing state, Wu realized Clinton’s best-case scenario was a tie.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Donald Trump, the businessman from New York, defeated Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, in the race for the white house.

“Honestly, I still went to bed with a vestige of hope and woke up a couple times in the middle of the night, frantically checking my inbox. It was devastating when I finally woke up for real and found out Trump had won on my phone. I didn’t process it at first,” said Wu.

After writing mental lists in her head of what she could have done to better support her candidate, Wu decided to focus on the present, and she reached out to Andover community members for support. Led by Wu, a handful of students who felt sincerely discouraged by the results of the election sat together silently on the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall during school hours on Wednesday, in an attempt to unite in the face of a seemingly divided nation.

The group stood with Out of the Blue (OOTB), a student organization on campus that hosts and facilitates social justice forums, which invited disheartened students to wear all black as “a symbol of mourning for the destructive rhetoric that has been (and will continue to be) used by our next president,” according to an email OOTB sent to its club members.

“I think one of the reasons why we’re wearing black and also staying silent and not playing music, all of that is in a note of solemnity. I don’t want it to be gimmicky, but there is something to be said that we are mourning the loss of this opportunity, the incredible decade’s work done by women and immigrants… We’re mourning all these things that we took to be quintessentially and unequivocally American,” said Wu.

According to a survey conducted by The Phillipian, 73 percent of Andover students and 94 percent of faculty supported Clinton for president. Many members of the community were concerned by the divisive rhetoric Trump demonstrated throughout his campaign.

Indy Sobol ’17, who was part of the group on the steps of Sam Phil, said, “People keep asking us if it’s a protest. There’s no political thing that we want to get out of this. It’s just that people are so lost and feel so betrayed, and we can come together and talk to each other and just start feeling like we’re not hated, and that we’re not completely alone.”

Linda Griffith, Assistant Head of School for Equity and Inclusion and Faculty Advisor to OOTB, said that she supports student-run demonstrations as a way to express dissent and gain acknowledgement from the public eye without suppressing opposing views.

“I love that it came from the students… Now that we’re here, and the election is behind us, this allows those who are not [happy] to express themselves without necessarily stomping on someone else’s celebration. I always support those types of responses on campus, especially a high school. It is a subtle, quiet way, but obvious way, of bringing awareness and bringing solidarity,” said Griffith.

Even as a Republican, Bryce Murphy ’18 was in anticipation of Clinton’s win. He believes the surprising outcome of the election reflects a division in the nation regarding different issues.

“People have to understand that just because I support the Republican political party does not mean I support every policy that Donald Trump is trying to pass and everything that he says…I don’t condone what Donald Trump has said,” explained Murphy.

“I look at my life and certain values stand out, and they are Republican. The Democrats want to raise taxes even further, and I live in Illinois, one of the most highly taxed place in America, so raising taxes would negatively affect my family,” he continued.

The administration made the last-minute decision to change what was intended to be separate class meetings to one All-School Meeting (ASM) the morning after the election results. This decision was made to assemble the Andover community and address the fear that some students felt.

The ASM featured addresses from Head of School John Palfrey; Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, who gave her speech in tears; and Griffith.

“At Andover, we reject bigotry. We will not tolerate hateful, bigoted actions,” said Elliott in an emotional address to the Andover community. “In this space, today, we have folks who are feeling scared and unsafe… In the weeks and months ahead, reflect, think, and dream about how you can better serve your peers, your community, and your world. Dream about how you will confront the complicated problems that divide us today. I have deep faith in you, and I will celebrate you every step of the way.”

Palfrey said, “This morning, as we wake up to a divided nation and a world of hurt and anger, I find I am devoted more than ever to the central cause that brought me to Andover: to help to make this residential school an example of a tolerant, loving, diverse, serious, hard-working, supportive, unbreakable community.”

Murphy held a slightly different view towards the ASM. The Phillipian reached out to seven Trump supporters, and all but three declined the request for an interview.

“Imagine if Clinton became president and there is a group of people wearing black, because Donald Trump was not elected. If Hillary Clinton won, I am sure there would be tons of people cheering and being happy about this, so I think that people just need to look at both sides and we need to understand each other and figure out how to move forward,” Murphy said.

Sophie Schwartsman ’18 described how it was incredibly biased for the administration to cancel regularly scheduled activities in light of the election.

“I respect that point of view and support the message of unity, tolerance, and respect. What I do not support is a mandatory meeting where students are forced to listen to perspectives that alienate the limited portion of the student body who feels content with the results of the election… The reaction from this campus felt very judgmental and continued the complete intolerance for the conservative view and unwillingness to have a productive and educational conversation that created a silent majority willing to elect Donald Trump… As long as both sides are heard, I am confident that we can work towards a better future in which no one feels excluded from democracy, ” said Schwartzman.

Griffith announced at ASM that there would be safe spaces available for students who needed to debrief the news of Trump’s presidency, including the Office of Community And Multicultural Development and the Brace Center for Gender Studies.

Jack Hjerpe ’17 said, “As a queer person, [Donald Trump] hinted at plans to repeal a lot of the legislation that protects queer citizens, which is a huge problem for me. I think that’s the biggest thing I’m concerned about: my right to marry whoever I choose, my right to be protected against discrimination when it comes to employment. Those are the two things that are being attacked, and are two things that are really important to my livelihood.”

Sensing a need for Andover students to reflect with one another on the results of the election and its implications, Hjerpe, Peter Rossano ’17, and Casey Yarborough ’17 met to plan a makeshift Andover Political Union (APU) meeting in the Freeman Room of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. At 6:15 p.m., they and many other students packed the room to share their raw reactions – some of which included tears and bursts of frustration.

Julian Colvin ’19, an attendee of the meeting and a supporter of Trump, said, “I think Mr. Palfrey did a very good job in mentioning the paradox of tolerance. I think we will become a much more united campus as time goes on, as emotions settle, and when we recognize the peaceful transition of power that’s going on right now. President Obama has made me incredibly hopeful, Secretary Clinton has made me incredibly hopeful, and the reaction of our leaders has made me incredibly hopeful… incredibly respectful of the processes that we have for the peaceful transition of power.”