UNM student opinions divided on election results

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

Outside a rally of University of New Mexico students and employees shouting anti-Trump rants, Alan Logsdon was unimpressed.

Look, he said Wednesday, they’re calling for nonviolence but telling President-elect Donald Trump to (expletive) himself?

“It’s hilarious,” said Logsdon, 29, as hundreds more gathered. They screamed, “Dump Trump” and “Not my president” before marching across campus and into Central Avenue, briefly blocking traffic.

Jennifer Marley, a UNM student whose student group, the Kiva Club, helped organize the protest, was enthused by the turnout. These chanting, marching people, she said, show people are ready to act.

“It says people aren’t having it,” Marley said. “People want to become activists.”

All the while, students likely walking to and from classes zigzagged through the crowd. Some took pictures, others just passed by.

The Wednesday protest illustrates the dissonance on campus following the election between those, particularly minorities, who fear they won’t have a place in Trump’s America and others who say Trump should be given a chance to lead.

These conversations are taking place while others have taken a more drastic course. Someone, or multiple people – it’s unclear – tagged buildings and public art on campus following the election with Nazi imagery tied to Trump. And the day after the election, a woman said a classmate tried to rip off her hijab.

UNM administrators are aware of the incidents and offering counseling at the Student Health and Counseling Center. The university also sent out a reminder on how and where to report if students feel they are target of a “hate or bias” incident.

“These attacks on any of us are attacks on all of us. They fly in the face of every American value that I was taught when I immigrated. We cannot become numb to the warning signs of closed-mindedness, and of mindless hatred,” wrote Provost Chaouki Abdallah on Wednesday in his weekly message to the campus community of about 27,500 students.

One week later

Frank said the university’s lawyers are looking at what UNM can do.

“We want all UNM students to be safe and feel embraced as part of our community,” Frank said in response to the faculty.

Let him govern

Nick Flor, a professor in the Anderson School of Management, earlier this year predicted that Trump would win the election. He even made a wager with a fellow professor.

During an interview with the Journal, Flor mentioned his childhood growing up with Filipino immigrants as parents. He has seen racism, the name-calling, the differential treatment, and he’s not worried about the future of a Trump presidency. Let him govern, Flor argued, before judging.

And Flor, who said he voted but declined to say for whom, argued that most people who voted for Trump aren’t racist.

“He says incendiary things, and no one defends that,” Flor said. “I don’t know if anyone defends those statements, but I think they look at the bigger picture. They’re voting despite them because they’re hurting so badly.”

The middle-class members of the university community do not see that struggle, he said.

That’s a sentiment shared by Ryan Ansloan, the president of the UNM College Republicans. That group endorsed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He said the College Republicans were always concerned about a Clinton presidency and that they were happier to see Trump elected.

Ansloan said he was also happy that Republicans retained control of the U.S. House and Senate. As for the president-elect ordering a mass deportation or a registry for Muslims, Ansloan said he thinks Trump won’t develop those.

“He is focused on the economy,” he said. “He’s making sure lobbyists aren’t making the decisions in the government.”

And both said Trump supporters on campus are likely underrepresented, given the potential for backlash from those who voted for Clinton.

“If you were a Trump supporter, you were going to be labeled a sexist or a racist,” Ansloan said.

The only way to address these divides, Abdallah said, is to remain “civil and respectful.”

“We say we protect the pack, and that goes for everyone, including those who disagree with us, and those of us who came here from elsewhere, attracted by American values and better lives,” Abdallah wrote in his weekly message.

It’s Tuesday, one week after the election that Hillary Clinton won in New Mexico, and just days after a young woman told UNM administrators that while she was chatting with friends at the campus library a man wearing a Trump shirt tried to forcibly remove her hijab.

Though the exact policy has varied, Trump has often talked about enacting a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

Amira Assed, 20, left, and Jenene Akkad, 19, talk about the mood on campus on Monday, following the presidential election. Akkad said she fears for her cousin's safety when Assed wears a hijab. (Greg Sorber/Journal)
Amira Assed, 20, left, and Jenene Akkad, 19, talk about the mood on campus on Monday, following the presidential election. Akkad said she fears for her cousin’s safety when Assed wears a hijab. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Amira Assed, 20, is also wearing a hijab and her cousin Jenene Akkad, 19, wears a Lobos hat. Since Trump was elected, people are staring more, they say. It’s difficult and awkward.

Akkad says she worries about her cousin walking around campus after dark. Assed said she had heard of people trying to rip off the hijabs of young women but never thought it would happen to somebody she knew.

They fear the situation will worsen. Assed said Trump’s speaking poorly of Muslims opens the door for everyone to do the same.

“If the president can do it, why can’t we?” she said.

They both voted for Clinton.

Issac de Luna, 26, moved from Mexico to New Mexico when he was 14, without documents, with his parents. And he didn’t become a permanent legal resident until 2011 or 2012. He said he knows the anxiety of living without papers, of the fear of “not knowing how far you can go because of your status.”

A Trump presidency worries him. He said he fears that Trump will embolden immigration agencies.

De Luna said he hopes UNM President Bob Frank declares that UNM will decline to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and protect the undocumented students.

A group of about 1,000 professors and instructors also signed a letter delivered to Frank on Friday urging the president to protect “members of its community from unfair deportation, investigation, or other forms of intimidation.” They also want UNM to be declared a “sanctuary” campus.

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