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Post-election fireside chat warms chilled, anxious students

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Interested students, staff, EdCC President Jean Hernandez and other school officials gathered near the Brier fireplace Monday, Nov. 21, to hear students’ responses to the recent election. Participants split into small groups to discuss question prompts, then shared with the whole circle.

“I feel like my vote didn’t count,” student Jessica Starr told her small group. Skylar Schank, an office assistant for the Student Diversity Center, opened up to the whole gathering. “My concern is that we’re going back to the 1950s, but it won’t just be African-Americans who are going to feel more oppression.” Others voiced worries about the environment, whether civil rights would be repealed and what would happen to their healthcare. One student, Jeanette Elizabeth, urged attendees to sign petitions on change.org.

Another student shared a story about his mother being yelled at by a Trump supporter and told to go back to her country, even though she was a U.S. citizen. An international student admitted, “I am fearful. Am I still able to fulfill my potential [here]?” Several students spoke about being anxious for the future and not knowing what would happen next.

Students with positive emotions about the election also attended. Freddie Monroe, a graphic designer for the Center for Student Engagement & Leadership (CSEL), said, “One thing this election has made me confront is my assumptions about other people’s politics.” Another student, Curtis Kirk, assured students that even though he had voted for Trump, he wanted everyone to know, “You have absolutely the right to be here … You should not live in fear.”

Dennis Denman, the Assistant Director for CSEL, acted as the moderator. He asked students what the college could do to make them feel safe, and what resources were available for them. Kirk suggested an open forum about security and carrying firearms in certain areas of campus. Kevin Pruski, the Waste Stream Specialist on EdCC’s Green Team, urged anyone who witnessed bullying or discrimination to inform campus security or an instructor, whatever was more comfortable.

Students who missed the fireside chat or who have additional concerns can sign up for counseling in the Mountlake Terrace building. Advocacy services are also available at the Wellness Center on the second floor of Lynnwood Hall.

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Post-election fireside chat warms chilled, anxious students