When it became clear Tuesday night that Donald Trump would win the presidency, fear, anger and despair struck many minorities at University of Richmond.
Common Ground's LGBTQ lounge was packed with students all day Wednesday, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs welcomed anyone seeking solace. A somber air permeated many parts of campus, leaking into classrooms where those who didn't quite finish their course readings were forgiven.
Trump's laundry list of people and groups he has insulted is well known. Muslims, women, Latinos, people with disabilities, prisoners of war and more have all been criticized or humiliated during his campaign.
The vast majority of polls, pundits and journalists did not predict Trump's success Tuesday night.
"My first thought went out to my parents," a sophomore from Virginia, who asked not to be named, said. His parents emigrated from South Korea about 30 years ago with the hope of a brighter, more prosperous future.
He said he and his parents had often endured harassment as racial minorities in Virginia. His parents were told to "go back to your country" and to "speak English." He heard similar statements as a child, and was bullied for his cultural background.
"Never in my life have I felt so dehumanized and rejected by American society," the sophomore from Virginia said about election night. On Wednesday, he called his mother to make sure she was OK and to ask her not to engage with any Trump supporters.
"What child has to warn their parent to stay safe because of a political climate?" he said.
Melisa Quiroga, a member of the Multicultural Students in Solidarity Network (MSSN) campus organization, said that at least five of her friends could not leave their dorm rooms on Wednesday out of distress and fear.
"I have a friend at Virginia Tech who is Muslim, and her mom called her to tell her not to wear her hijab," she said. "I wasn't expecting it would come to this."
The sophomore from Virginia said some of his friends had felt trapped in their rooms Tuesday night after hearing Trump supporters chant "Grab her by the p----" from outside.
When Rocío Posada, a member of the Spanish and Latino Student Alliance (SALSA), realized Trump was going to win, she cried. She had spent most of the fall semester studying abroad in Chile, but flew home to Delaware on Tuesday after suffering a broken ankle. She watched the results closely as Tuesday night turned to Wednesday morning.
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"My cousins, aunts and uncles were all there, hopeful that we'd elect our first woman president," Posada said. "I honestly felt how most minorities feel — scared. I lived four months in Latin America where I truly learned to appreciate the United States. Now, I had just come back to my country and it had been taken away from me."
A sophomore from New York, who also asked not to be named, watched the results in the Alice Haynes room until the projector turned off at midnight. After leaving the room, he said people immediately split on party lines, as Trump supporters moved to The Pier, and Clinton supporters gathered in The Current.
"As a male who identifies as gay, I do worry about my safety," he said. "Just walking around I worry about the hate crimes that might occur."
Like many people connected to the LGBTQ and other minority communities now, the sophomore from New York primarily expressed concern for his friends.
"I want my friends to feel safe, but I don't feel safe, so how am I supposed to reassure them?" he said.
A senior and member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) said his parents, who live in Pakistan, worried about his safety, but couldn't fully understand the situation because of the different news media they consumed.
Another senior in MSA, who is from Saudi Arabia, said he and his father were amazed by the democratic process that led to Trump.
"I come from a monarchy," he said. "For me, this is a privilege and dream, and even if I was on the losing side, I would accept it."
However, the senior from Saudi Arabia did worry about the global implications of a Trump presidency. He said far right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen would see a surge of support after Trump's election.
But he doesn't think everyone who voted for Trump and his conservative ideology will accept all of the president-elect's proposed actions, he said.
"I think we're dehumanizing all Republicans when we say they're going to stand by his side," he said.
Although the senior from Pakistan agreed with that sentiment, he also expressed uneasiness regardless of whether or not all of Trump's plans are successful.
"It's that mere possibility... of banning Muslims," he said. "That is scary, and not on a selfish level but on a more global level."
Some students were immediately ready to begin fighting for change. Bri Park, a member of MSSN and the Black Student Alliance, said the results were personal for her family, as they received insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but she believed positive change was possible.
"If I could just send a message to other people of color, it would be to stay hopeful," Park said. "I think it's about sticking together right now."
SALSA President Daniela Amador said millennials could be the answer to the country's woes.
Trump "has disrespected my hard-working, immigrant parents who have fought long and hard to be where they are now and citizens of this nation," she said. "However, I think my generation has a powerful voice that will soon come to full fruition as we grow older."
While sitting in the Common Ground LGBTQ lounge, junior Rennie Harrison drafted an email to her Washington, D.C., area high school, which required students to attend the presidential inauguration every four years. She wanted the school to make exceptions for students who might not feel safe attending the event in January.
"I hope that we can more seriously consider the values of compassion and love in the coming years," Harrison said. "Those are the only forces that I think can counter Trump's values."
Contact news editor Kayla Solsbak at firstname.lastname@example.org
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