Students react to Warren’s election response

Photo courtesy of Kent State University

Lydia Taylor

Kent State President Beverly Warren sent an email to the university community Nov. 14 addressing the post-election effects on the university.

“As with any election, some members of our community have celebrated the election winners while others are less enthusiastic about the results,” Warren wrote in the email. “For many, this election was especially significant and charged with emotion. It is in these times that we must remain true to the exceptional sense of family that we have created here at Kent State.”

Since the election, many students on campus have expressed their emotions about President-elect Donald Trump by showing solidarity through peaceful demonstrations.

On Nov. 9, the Ohio Student Association organized a “Wall of Love” the day after the election.  Students assembled with cans of spray paint and painted the rock with the phrase “Not My President.”

On Nov. 13, a crowd of students gathered in Risman Plaza and sat peacefully side-by-side to let each other know they were not alone. 

On Nov. 17, the Kent State men’s basketball team, along with Warren, pulled members of the audience, with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, down to the court to stand with them during the national anthem. Earlier in the day, members of Kent PRIDE! and other students sat on the M.A.C. Center steps in unity to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Brian Boehmer, sophomore aeronautics major and member of the College Republicans, said he thought the way Warren reacted was a great way to call for kindness and respect within the community.

“I think we are a country very divided and that is also true on Kent (State’s) campus,” Boehmer said. “Calling for respect for other people’s opinions is a good start to reuniting the college and the country.”

Carolyn Reisdorff, senior teaching English as a second language major and member of the College Democrats, said Warren — along with her administration — encourages a civil atmosphere and has shown respect for students repeatedly.

“So far, I think she is doing the right thing and has always cared deeply and actively about the Kent State community. I have immense respect for President Warren, and I know she does for us too,” Reisdorff said. “Although I do feel like I’d like to see more from the university at this time, perhaps it is more of a responsibility for us as students to be the ones to take more serious political action.”

Danielle Martin-Jensen, a graduate student in translation and president of the Native American Student Association, said she thinks, for the most part, the email was a good start for her to sympathize with the community.

“I think she made an excellent effort to be very diplomatic,” Martin-Jensen said. “She has to, as a president of anything, very much appeal to the masses — students, faculty and staff.” 

Martin-Jensen said even though the email was a step in the right direction, she feels Warren lacked in taking a more hands-on approach with the students.

“Where I think she came up short was she didn’t make a bold move and address all of us who are feeling that the people who want to marginalize us are coming to power,” Martin-Jensen said. “I’m a part of the LGBT community and I’m native, and I’m very, very concerned about the outcome of the election.”

Martin-Jensen said no matter which community someone belongs to, there is fear instilled in each one. She said she believes if the administration were to make safe space training required for all students and faculty and were to declare Kent State as a sanctuary campus, there would be a lot less fear.

“To not have somebody step forward and say, ‘Hey, here’s a reminder: You belong here and nobody is allowed to make you feel differently’… I feel that’s where (the administration) came up short,” Martin-Jensen said.

Lama Abu-Amara, a junior chemistry major and president of the Muslim Student Association, thought Warren’s words were needed, but the email should have been sent out sooner.

“The administration has not been very helpful,” Abu-Amara said. “Instead, we have been turning to faculty members.”  

“The Safe Spaces event that was held this past Tuesday was very much needed, and it helped a lot of people with expressing their feelings and voicing some valid concerns.”

Abu-Amara said since the election, many students within MSA have expressed fear and feel as though they can’t voice how they feel. She said they are worried that those who oppose their thoughts will respond negatively. 

“One thing that people have to understand is that even though they might not be afraid of everything that has been going on, there are others that are. Fear doesn’t have to be rational for it to exist and not everyone has the same level of fear,” Abu-Amara said. “So if someone says that they are afraid, then please take it very seriously.”

Lydia Taylor is an administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]