Anonymous professor criticizes UO’s “safe election processing spaces”

Personally I’m processing this election just like my Dad did in ’72, after his friend and grad school classmate George McGovern lost to Nixon – by crying into a glass of bourbon while rereading the speeches of Abraham Lincoln:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. …

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us …

But I know that not every student has a fake ID, and so I’m fine with the healthier processing help offerred by our VP for Diversity, below. That said, I’m also happy to serve as the safe space for those like the anonymous professor below, who think “Treating [our students] like precious snowflakes is insulting to their mental maturity and intelligence.”:

I voted for Hillary and I can’t stand Trump. But this email from our VP Inclusion office is exactly why some people voted for Trump. The fact that we feel the need to provide safe spaces for our students to “heal” after an election is just sad. Our students should already have the mental fortitude and maturity to deal with life’s setbacks. Treating them like precious snowflakes is insulting to their mental maturity and intelligence. When they have jobs in a few years (if they don’t already) are they going to ask their boss for time out from work because they are traumatized after an election? There are many reports from faculty of students crying in class and unable to focus on the material. This is madness.

p.s. also the fact that I have to send this anonymously and preface with “I voted for Hillary” (which I did) is a testament to the intolerance on our campus for alternate views (especially from our administration), which I think is a symptom of this “must give students space to heal from people who say bad things” theme. What happened to ‘sticks & stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me?’


Dear Colleagues:

For many in our community, the election results have been traumatic, instilling fear, hurt and a sense of abandonment. While every election in our democracy has winners and losers, yesterday’s election was more than that. The winning candidate insulted, caricatured and dehumanized many of our own faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners who are Black, Native, Chicanx/Latinz, survivors of sexual assault, immigrants and undocumented, Muslim, LGBTQ+, Asian and Pacific Islander communities, people with disabilities, women, allies, and others.

In your capacity as a leader on our campus and a member of our UO community, I am asking you to please extend compassion and empathy as many of us grieve and engage in self care. This will provide all of our community members with the space to process, heal and move forward.  I am also asking you to be in touch with UO faculty, staff and students in your respective units to offer resources and support,  and appropriately provide time for community members to avail themselves of the resources:


Date: 11/9/16

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: Multicultural Center (EMU 109)

Time for healing and reflection in the wake of last night’s election.


Date: 11/10/16

Time: 4-5 PM

Location: Falling Sky Brewery


DATE: Friday, 11/11/16

TIME: 9-11 AM

LOCATION: Mills International Center [1], M102 Erb Memorial Union (the stairs/elevator by the Duck Store)

More importantly, I am asking you to take proactive steps to improve the climate in the units where you serve as a leader. Provide space for reflection, civil discourse and compassion. Understand that the road to the beloved community often encounters anger, missteps and confusion along the way.  This is especially so because the fabric of our nation and campus community is already tenuous. No matter the difficulty, now is the time to reach out across our differences, find the best in others and come together as a community committed to the values of inclusive excellence and well-being for all.

Take good care, Yvette

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45 Responses to Anonymous professor criticizes UO’s “safe election processing spaces”

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    This statement from Yvette is not only pathetic, but almost frightening and sinister, were it not such a ridiculous self-parody.

    Pathetic in that it shows such contempt on the part of the administration for our students.

    Frightening and sinister in that it shows why so many people, who constitute about half of the American population, would feel endangered themselves in expressing their political views on a campus like UO, which supposedly is (or perhaps was) dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas.

    Self-parodying in that it confirms and displays the most fantastical views of “the deplorables” about what intolerant, self-regarding, insular, self-pitying bubbles the universities have turned into.

    I would not feel at all “safe” were I a faculty member without tenure or a student who admitted to being on the other side in the election, or even saying that Trump perhaps had some things to say that needed to said (like, the political correctness that is poisoning American life).

    The anonymous poster is correct.

    • uomatters says:

      Sounds like another vote for bourbon and Lincoln. Although I just switched to Tequila – only to help defend the Peso, of course. It’s pretty good stuff, and cheap too. Thank you NAFTA!

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Yes, Lincoln. Pretty good speechifier, at least the written versions. The Second Inaugural my favorite. Believe it or not, more eloquent than either Donald or Hillary. Or just about anyone else.

        It seems like the entire upper administration — Mike, Scott, Yvette, even Andrew — are having nervous breakdowns. Please order them an unlimited round of that bourbon AND tequila at the new faculty club. I will help pay for it if UOM advertising revenue is not sufficient to cover the costs.

        And yes, I still think NAFTA was on the whole a good idea. One of Reagan’s best. Yes, Reagan! But it caused some problems that it took someone like Donald to point out, and which people like myself had overlooked.

        Someday, we’ll have to discuss trade with China here at UOM. Perhaps on 190 proof grain alcohol. Now there is a drink!

        • uomatters says:

          Not to get off topic, but Lincoln’s judgement of white NCAA football coaches is particularly wise:

          It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.

    • Sherlock says:

      I agree. I’m an OA and a Trump supporter. I would never admit that in public on this campus. There is no “safe place” for conservatives on campus. Only “safe places” for liberals.

      • uomatters says:

        Thanks for this comment. I’d like to think that this blog is a safe space for everyone’s First Amendment rights. And I’d really like to hear why you are a Trump supporter – because we really need some diversity of thought around this place.

      • Jack Straw Man says:

        to Sherlock:

        Spare us! The worst that would happen if you admitted in public on campus that you’re a Trump supporter is that people would tell you you’re wrong. Maybe they’d say it in a condescending way. BFD.

        Meanwhile, there are whole swaths of Lane County, forget about the rest of the state or country, where people of color, LGBTQ people, and feminists feel *physically* unsafe. We know that many Trump voters feel we should be deported, imprisoned, reeducated, outlawed – because those are the positions he was elected on. And we know the police and the FBI have *your* back, but not ours, in any confrontation.

        Do you have any idea how that feels?

        • uomatters says:

          JSM, your comment does not seem likely to lead to an increase in our understanding of the motivations of Trump voters.

          • Jack Straw Man says:

            I don’t get it. The candidate who advocates deporting, imprisoning, reeducating, and/or harassing women, people of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ, and anybody who thinks different WON, and we’re supposed to feel that his supporters are the persecuted ones? That *they* need safe spaces, rather than the people targeted by their preferred candidate?

      • just different says:

        Yes, I am cranky about this election. But I am fed up with the latest right-wing bollocks about the “lack of intellectual diversity” on college campuses which supposedly resulted in an out-of-touch educated class.

        I can and do feel perfectly comfortable expressing my political opinions in a “hostile” environment. At any given time I might choose not to because I don’t feel like getting into an argument with someone who doesn’t agree with me, but I know that my opinions are ethically sound and rationally defensible. If you really wouldn’t own up to your political opinions on campus, maybe the problem is the content of your political opinions and not the absence of like-minded individuals to validate your views.

      • AnonymousSquared says:

        I am also an OA who voted for Trump and I agree completely with Sherlock. If I were to admit that I voted Trump I may not be directly retaliated against but I would most certainly be ostracized and vilified. I’m confident saying this because, since the election, I’ve been listening to colleagues gather to confirm as much every day for (quite literally) hours on end.

        The irony for me is that, the conditions that allow them to do that while being wastefully compensated by the student loan debt incurred by the UO student body, are the same conditions that cause people to believe University students need coddling after they lose, are the same conditions that caused people to vote for Donald Trump…

        Most people didn’t vote for Trump because he said stupid and hurtful things, which he absolutely did. People voted for Donald Trump in spite of these stupid and hurtful things because they believe a vote for Hillary is a vote for moving this country further into these conditions. That and because people are fed up with career politicians and the mainstream media insulting their intelligence.

        The choice we were given was between two poor candidates. This wasn’t an election to pick the best. It was an election to pick the less harmful, and the country was narrowly divided. Trump won because he was running against Hillary Clinton, not because he struck a cord with a core group of Republicans. He would have lost to Bernie Sanders because, like Trump, Bernie Sanders appears authentic. Authenticity appeals to the masses. Obama had the same quality in 08. Hillary so obviously doesn’t, which is also why she lost to Obama. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that Hillary is full of shit.

        If you keep telling yourself that she lost because of her gender and he won because of bigotry, you are reinforcing a false dichotomy based on the least substantive reasons for this outcome. You are also reinforcing the very division between groups that makes you feel unsafe, because it’s easy to hate and fear a bunch of racist; sexist; deplorable rednecks. It’s much harder to hate and fear people who are very much like you, but hold out hope that Trump just might be a little bit less harmful to this county than Hillary Clinton.

        Make no mistake, the populace that voted Trump are scared right now for many of the same reasons. Also, look to the riots in Portland and tell me with a straight face that anyone should feel *physically* safe in the wake of this disastrous election.

        Bill is right in that the absolute best way to move on from this is to try really really hard to understand one another’s position. That used to be a staple of the University experience didn’t it? Recent events suggest that diversity of thought is only welcome so long as it excludes diversity of thought that hurts people’s feelings.

  2. We need more perspective taking says:

    This is not just any election. The man this country just elected bragged about sexually assaulting women. He attacked a judge for his “Mexican heritage”. (For more on the litany of bigotry and the very material consequences likely, see:
    If this new president acts on these values, there are likely profound consequences for people.
    How could sexually assaulted people and those with Mexican heritage – and all the others who this man derided — not be threatened now?
    This is not about catering to delicate emotions — this is about a threat to safety and personhood.
    We can hope for the Trump president to be better than the Trump candidate and we can hope for peace and growth, for rationality and compassion — we must hope for the best — but put yourself in the shoes of someone previously raped or someone not white or someone disable — even for a moment please, imagine what that must be like right now.

    Of course this election result would likely be terrifying to people who are the targets of bigotry in this country. Of course!

    Acknowledging this possibility of terror, and providing support, is not patronizing to our students — it is honest, mature, respectful and caring.

    • uomatters says:

      Agreed. And we also need to understand why almost half the electorate voted for him anyways. Our failure as professors to gain that understanding – usually to not even try – is to our shame.

      Mine too. I just started this book, which really should be next year’s common reading for UO’s students and faculty.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Yes, Hillbilly Elegy is a really fine book. It would be a welcome change from the invariably leftish and liberal common reading assigned at UO and almost every other campus.

      • Gimme a break says:

        Half the electorate? Not even close. Trump’s at 60.1 million votes, which is just 26% of the electorate. Romney received 61 million votes, 27% of eligible voters.

        The same 60 million bigots and bigot apologists have been voting republican ever since the Rove revolution of 2004–the number of first-time Republican voters was inconsequential in this election. There’s nothing to understand, it’s the same racist, misogynistic electorate that’s been there all along. The mistake is to think that this election represents something new, rather than the same run-of-the-mill insanity that’s been there all along.

    • not a scientist or a faculty member says:

      Trump is an arrogant blowhard who has a history of being tasteless and acting classless. He will be the first President who was a regular guest on Howard Stern’s show. He was roasted by Comedy Central for crying out loud.

      He is a clown. End of story.

      However, he gets just as many votes from minority groups as any Republican.

      Would Yvette have sent the same email if Romney won?

      Are people really afraid?

      Students should be encouraged to stand tall and to take pride in their background, culture, beliefs, etc. They should also be encouraged to learn and grow.

      They shouldn’t be encouraged to seek refuge.

      • uomatters says:

        What makes so many readers think that Yvette Alex-Assensoh’s “safe spaces” are a retreat into defeat? Perhaps they will lead our students to organize and consolidate their strength, come out to learn about their opponents, and then use what they learn to fight back, as Churchill did after Dunkirk.

      • just different says:

        Trump’s incompetence and vulgarity isn’t what really scares me, since we’ve weathered other vulgar or incompetent presidents. What really scares me is that he deliberately and openly set out to win an election by convincing a lot of white people who already had the idea that they’re losing out to women, blacks, and immigrants that they’re right. And what terrifies me is that there are enough of these people to elect him. I expect there will be a very great need for many different kinds of “safe spaces” over the next four years.

        • Trond Jacobsen says:

          These perilous times call for taking risks.

          1. Adding to justdifferent’s comment above, that small but violent part of our society, the neo-Nazis, skinheads, and racialists, a vanishingly small part of the Trump coalition to be sure, feel empowered to bring their violence and hate front and center with Trump’s election. Through a variety of techniques, dog whistles and overt statements, he signaled that he is their guy and this is their time. Racist attacks are already on the rise, beginning minutes after his election, including folks in blackface on our campus, an obvious and deliberate provocation. Responding that it is protected speech is tone deaf in the extreme and says nothing about its social and psychological impact: it could be speech that is protected, that should be protected, and that still causes great harm that compassionate people will want to address and where possible prevent.

          The threats arising from Trump’s election are not however merely rhetorical. They are real even if those of us with privilege as employees of a university, whatever our color, are unlikely to experience them. So we are more comfortable just “getting over it” and moving on, living to fight another day, accepting that political life brings setbacks.

          Our trauma, while real, may not require safe spaces and processing, for many reasons. In my case I am surrounded by similarly-situated white, straight, middle-class folks in my hometown. I don’t need a safe space because I live in one. But I refuse to project my views from a place of privilege and security to condescend to others differently-situated and whose lives and families are more at risk. I have issues with what many on this blog denigrate using the epithet “PC” and I am pretty much a 1st Amendment absolutist. But I also recognize my situation is comparatively secure, even from Donald Trump.

          I say this not just in terms of unfavorable policy and social outcomes in a world of Trump and unified GOPer control (though that is big: I will have insurance whatever comes of Obamacare; my family is not at risk of being deported; I have never in my decades been the victim of sexual assault; as a Norwegian-American I have never once been given the pat down or the evil eye at the airport despite literally hundreds and hundreds of flights in my time, more than an hundred post 9-11; I have no experience with a visceral fear to my safety from law enforcement; I can say, and do say, dumb or impolite things but this does not impact my social capital; in nearly all settings my opinions are considered and heard, even if rejected; the list goes on and on and on and on).

          It is also highly likely that the white thugs, the racists and the racialists, the White Nationalists and the Holocaust deniers and the neo-Nazis are going to be on the march, adding a new and horrifying dimension to the insecurity many of our fellow human beings have long experienced. It is likely to be dozens or hundreds and not thousands of instances (but who knows, really?) but each will cast a pall over all. Our friends need our help and our bodies and our advocacy more than they need lectures about free speech absolutism.

          2. I agree that those of us in the center-left to the far left need to get a better understanding of the factors and fears that drove the white backlash Trump rode to power. It is in our political and social self-interest but even more because their pain is real and should be addressed in a just society (Trump of course has no real plans to address them). But at the same time it is a little jarring to me how progressives and the left media are beside themselves with tender concern for the anxieties and deprivations of the ‘good ole boy’ in rural PA and Macomb County when other communities have never enjoyed the “good old days” and have for the most part experienced continual, persistent, and sometimes debilitating anxieties and deprivations (and worse).

          Also, let’s be clear about the fact downscale voters overall supported Clinton more than Trump. All elections are about class and race and gender and many other issues, but this election I believe was *more* about race and gender than class (though all were somehow more prominent than in the past). My belief is not fully-informed yet by data. I know my view runs counter to the central thrust of media and political analysis and is not a popular view with many white progressives but the pre-election polling (so there is that…) were pretty clear: Income insecurity was not a significant predictor of Trump support but racial and religious animus was. Trump won the rich, as GOPers always do. Trump is not a GOPer Huey Long but more a Father Coughlin or a George Wallace on the outside and George Bush on the inside. Indeed, his tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires makes George Bush look like Bernie Sanders. We are going to get a Paul Ryan, Koch-brothers domestic policy agenda, not some GOPer policy agenda for the anxious blue collar white voter in rural Pennsylvania.

          I feel there is a rush to cast this electoral outcome nearly exclusively in class terms by many progressive thinkers that I feel is washing over the central, I think decisive, role of race and misogyny in explaining this election. The economic angst is a real factor in the rise of Trump. But so is racism and misogyny, and let’s be sure to focus on that fact as well.

  3. Steve says:

    The professor who wrote that email is probably not at risk of deportation and probably has no close friends or family members who are, that professor is probably not a minority who has experienced a hate crime and feels afraid for his or her safety about such crimes occurring more frequently, etc. I’m all about being a forward thinker, but let’s have a little empathy for our peers who have different life experiences than we that might make them more vulnerable now.

    • no says:

      I know the anonymous poster and she is none of those things. She is a faculty member of color who happens to have the maturity to not let the election of one person determine her happiness. I think your post just underscores her point. You automatically assumed that just because she disagreed with safe spaces or felt it was patronizing that her or she must white who has never experienced non-privilege.

      • Steve says:

        I did not assume above that she was white and had never experienced non-privilege. I DID (and continue) to assume that she doesn’t share life experiences with others who feel genuinely personally threatened by Donald Trump. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just can’t see somebody who does saying this: “Treating them like precious snowflakes is insulting to their mental maturity and intelligence.” I’m not even unsympathetic to her viewpoint–we need to be strong and forward-thinking–but I also think there’s a difference between giving people space to express their justified emotions and coddling them.

        • thedude says:

          ” that professor is probably not a minority who has experienced a hate crime and feels afraid for his or her safety about such crimes occurring more frequent”

          Yes you did steve. yes you did. Admit it and move on.

  4. Um? says:

    Isnt the whole campus a space for them to do that? There are protests every night anti Trump. I don’t think there’s even a single person on campus who will admit to voting for Trump. There is absolutely no one on campus even challenging their views and yet they need special extra space to grieve (or rather, we seem to want to provide this extra space). The world outside this campus is not like that. 60mil ppl voted for Trump. Are we really equipping our students to face the world where they will encounter plenty of opposing views? They will not have special safe places at their workplace (unless they become faculty of course!). So they need to learn to cope and move on like any normal adult outside of the campus atmosphere does.

    • Steve says:

      I agree that safe spaces are probably unnecessary on the UO’s campus. At the same time, the admin was probably just trying to be supportive of people feeling the way they need to feel. I know of people who are members of oppressed minorities who have committed suicide in the wake of Trump’s election, so I’m sympathetic to efforts to reach out to people. The purpose of my post above was to wonder why anyone would oppose those outreach efforts. But perhaps safe spaces aren’t the right approach. What do you think are ways to show support for people that might also avoid the problems that the professor identified–i.e., treating students like precious snowflakes and insulting their mental maturity and intelligence?

      • no safe spaces in real life says:

        The goal should be to equip our students to handle not only the intellectual rigors but also the emotional and social rigors of the workplace and life beyond the campus. Sorry to say, real life does not come with safe spaces. If you are a clerk at Walmart, I don’t think you got a safe space at the store to “process” the election. You had to freakin show up to work at 7am the day after the election and do your job. Your boss would have laughed you out and probably fired you if you called in and said “hey can I skip my shift today? Really traumatized by Trump right now”. No, not happening. You probably had to work with other colleagues that voted for Trump. So you have to learn to roll with life’s punches, you don’t get special spaces to process things.

        And by “special spaces”, I mean spaces where only people who confirm your viewpoint are allowed. I hardly think a Trump voter would be welcome at these spaces. But they should! That’s the only way to bridge the divide (as long as both sides are respectful). While the email didn’t specifically exclude Trump voters, it clearly did say “ELECTION PROCESSING SPACE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR, LGBTQIA, WOMEN, IMMIGRANTS, REFUGEES AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES”.

        White male? Don’t bother. Voted for Trump? Get lost. But meeting people on the other side and talking to them eye-to-eye is really the only solution to the hurt right now. A Trump supporter really needs to look people in the eye and explain the reasonings behind their vote, and they need to also hear how it affects others. And vice versa. But that will most certainly not happen in these safe spaces where only people of “your kind” are allowed or encouraged to come. That certainly does not happen in real life outside of campus.

        • anon2 says:

          I would dearly love to have a Trump supporter look at a group of women and minorities and tell them why they think it is okay to have a president who – through words and actions- symbolizes racism and misogyny. Every time we look at him we see ‘I grab them by the pussy’ ‘I mock disabilities’ ‘I’m supported by the KKK.’ I haven’t yet met or heard of a Trump supporter who is willing to admit that damage – really accept it, not write it off – and explain why they were willing to vote in spite of it.

          • hmm... says:

            Yes exactly. It would be nice to see that; the Trump support would have to think twice about his or her vote and humanize the impact of that vote. But this will never, ever happen in that safe space. Because that Trump voter would not be welcome there. That is my objection to these safe processing spaces. If you want a space and an event to discuss the election, that’s great. But all should be invited for a civil discussion, and we can begin to bridge the divide.

          • Oryx says:

            I agree, but you are aware, I hope, that Trump got 29% of the Hispanic vote. It’s a mistake to think that Trump’s support is driven by racism.

      • Kassia L. says:

        As an alumna, the very notion that a professor wrote such an abhorrent letter is sickening.

        As a student, I looked up to my faculty members. They were my mentors and guides, both academically and (later on) personally. I trusted them and counted on them and believed in them, and find it an abuse of that trust that any professor would say such a thing and willingly alienate students who might find him/her a source of safety and comfort during a very trying time.

        Faculty have a responsibility to those they teach, to endow not just intellectual understanding of the ideas in their respective fields, but to encourage and mentor their students, and set an example. Not belittle the students or treat them with disdain.

        This professor should be ashamed of their words, especially in response to Yvette’a very considerate, eloquent, articulate letter that seems only to be concerned with the wellbeing of the campus community.

  5. Anonymous says:


    I was an OA at UO during a relatively recent presidential election in which I voted for the candidate not supported by the bien pensants. Like you, I kept that well under my hat. It wasn’t about the fear of confrontation (because really, who cares), it was more about the fear of losing my job, because I did enjoy having a roof over my head and being able to feed the kids, even though I never really did fit in at UO (and indeed, am now far, far away, teaching at a foreign university where everybody is expected, more or less, to act like a grownup).

  6. Um? says:

    But hey at least we’re not cancelling classes or exams like other schools. That is just too much! That would definitely never happen in the corporate world. “Hey boss can’t make the client meeting today, really traumatized by the election”

  7. ANON says:

    A mild suggestion . Being that this is a university, why not organize a teach-in to try to understand/communicate/educate why Trump won, moving the dialogue beyond the realm of identity politics.( I have no connection to UO, and am not a Trump supporter; I do have 40 yrs experience as a prof at Univs of similar stature to UO).
    As a small contribution to this dialogue I reprint a comment that appeared attached to a published article, referring to the state of Wisconsin, which was expected to go for Clinton, but went for Trump:

    “Once again the arrogant out of touch liberal intelligentsia gets it wrong. I live in Wisconsin and have a small business in a small town. My business needs customers who have either money or credit and most now don’t have either. These people are angry they are scraping by with bills and kids in college but cant qualify for an obamacare subsidy. My bread and butter used to be people who would come up from Illinois and buy. That’s all gone now. I have my building up for sale, will close down and lay off my several employees. All my employees, myself and a good chunk of my customers all voted for Trump. I didnt think he would win but I just wanted to protest. These are the forgotten people who turned Wisconsin red I think for the first time since 1988. And they aren’t all just angry white people. I have a fair number of black customers who look at the burnt out crack houses in Milwaukee, the abject poverty, out of control out of wedlock births, loss of jobs, failing schools, rising murder rate and wonder why with a black president and a democrat controlled city and record spending per student and very high property taxes that things don’t improve. They get worse. Democrats are going to have to be honest with themselves and admit it wasn’t some FBI director who lost the election for you. It wasn’t racism either. Us Wisconsin cracker hicks (that’s what you think of us correct??) came out for Obama. We are just tired. Tired of hearing how unemployment is at full employment as we drive by our shuttered GM plant and get record numbers of people on government aid. Tired as we hear of more jobs going to Mexico. And just tired of being lied to about how great the economy is for everyone. I don’t know what kind of president Trump will be but at least he is shaking things up and making people look at America and maybe things aren’t so great for a big part of the population.”

    • Jack Straw Man says:

      ANON, if your suggestion of “trying to understand/communicate/educate why Trump won” was sincere, then it would also have to ask the question of why this Wisconsin commenter would live through eight years of a Republican administration getting us into wars and tanking the economy, eight years of a Democratic administration managing to revive the economy in the face of rabid Republican opposition, and six years of a Republican governor dedicated to gutting the social safety net (including ACA), but blame his/her customer’s ills on the party with the black people and the women in it.

      The reason why I doubt your suggestion is sincere is that the answer to this question might actually *not* require “moving the dialogue beyond the realm of identity politics.”

    • just different says:

      It’s true that people with rural or working-class backgrounds are very underrepresented on college campuses, both as students and as employees, and it’s also true that colleges have done precious little to address that. But it’s a lot of baloney that the Democratic party has just let them eat cake, and it’s even more baloney that the GOP has ever seriously done anything for them.

      I read this Wisconsinite’s complaint as further evidence that for Trump voters, this election was fundamentally about white identity politics, especially white rural identity politics (such as the belief that they they are disrespected as “cracker hicks” by the “arrogant out of touch liberal intelligentsia”) and a desire to return to 1950. If any other group displayed this kind of misplaced resentment, I’m pretty sure no one would be blaming themselves for misunderstanding them.

    • anon2 says:

      I have to agree that it would be useful to give this missive to our students and let the tear it apart with critical thinking and factual analysis. First, they could note that it starts with an insult that denotes a deep bias. Next, they could do a critical analysis of the economic situation in Wisconsin since their Republican governor took over, and the role of the governor and state legislator in the lack of new or retained business in Wisconsin. They could also consider the voting record in Milwaukee, where the residents still seem to be voting overwhelmingly democratic despite those evil out-of-wedlock births. They could discuss the probability that a businessman making his fortune from outsourced labor will work on bringing any of those jobs back to the U.S. Once the students were done with analysis, I suppose we could use this as an example of how a single person’s statement yanked off of the internet shouldn’t really be used as an informed basis for discussion.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Trump voter and supporter here. If anyone really, honestly and genuinely wants to understand why I would not only vote for Trump but also stand behind him and what he plans to do, read this:

    Save you some money and time instead of reading Hillbilly Elegy.

  9. Dog says:

    When I was your age, I thought it was over. My mother was a feminist, so I wanted to call myself anything but a feminist. And anyway, I seemed pretty welcome at work. Even though it was Wall Street, my analyst class was about a third women. We weren’t just on our way — we’d arrived.

    But then…there were the inappropriate pictures left on my desk. The guy miming a sex act when my back was turned. I wasn’t given the great assignments; the more senior woman I worked with was likewise dismissed as “lightweight” (and, lest you think that might have been true, that woman was Safra Catz, now the co-President of Oracle). Then the women started to fall away in their 30s…more in their 40s. But the worst of it, I thought was over.

    And now Trump has made it clear to everyone that the battle for us women is not over.

    I can’t stop thinking about this and what we can / should do:

    Remember that gender bias in the workplace is not a thing of the past. I’m sorry if I didn’t act when I should have. I thought we had left sexism behind us by the time I was in more senior roles. After all, we had complaint hotlines and diversity plans and requirements for diverse slates of candidates for every job. But now I’m remembering one of the members of the senior leadership team who would kiss younger women on the cheek at the beginning of meetings. Creepy, right? I now wonder what was being said when I wasn’t in that room.

    Ask tough questions, and call the guys out when necessary. I recently asked my best guy friend: “Do guys really talk like Donald Trump and Billy Bush behind closed doors?” His response: “No, but…” And the “but” was that the conversations are more along the lines of: “Boy, she has great legs,” or “she’s a looker” or “Whew. Wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole.” When I asked him how he responded to this, he said he didn’t say anything; after all, he has to work with these folks.

    But so do we. And breaking us down to our body parts or our appearance dehumanizes us in some way. Maybe it’s only in some small way. But it’s clear that for some years, we (and by we, I mean I) were likely too complacent about the inevitability of gender progress in the workplace and relaxed perhaps just a bit too much.

    If you’re in a bad work situation, it’s ok to quit. So many women think that it’s a “failure” if you quit your job; and you know how hard we females take failure. But sometimes it’s not us: it’s them.

    I recently left the board of a non-profit that I LOVE. I had been on it for years (and years). At nearly every meeting I asked how much we were spending on our investment managers, in comparison to the return we were getting. Meeting after meeting I was told that the answer was complex, it was hard to calculate, it would take a lot of work – and why did it matter anyway? It was really the net returns that matter, regardless of how much we paid for them. And then, last spring, before I could bring up the topic, one of the men did; and all the other guys eagerly agreed with him, that we need to keep an eye on fees because those are really all we can control.

    I quit the next week.

    Life is too short, and I can have a lot more impact with the week-a-year I get back instead of being ignored in meetings.

    I know not everyone is in the position to quit; I wasn’t earlier in my career. So the onus is also on those of us who are more senior to be more supportive of women who leave these situations. I am hopeful that an outcome of this election will be greater understanding of this.

    Get yourself a senior, successful – preferably female – mentor, who can help you navigate the politics of your company. This includes the gender politics. Can’t find one on your own? Speak to HR about helping you find one; this is their job, after all.

    Your company doesn’t have a senior, successful female? Get the hell out of there.

    Do your best to make sure that your success is quantified. Be it a sales goal, a client satisfaction rating, an output metric, a quality target. Numbers count here because they’re black-and-white, cut-and-dried. Were you successful or not? I recommend this even if you work in a “normal” company, because implicit gender biases and expectations still exist for all of us.

    Think about starting your own thing. This is what’s exciting; we have the ability to start our own businesses today, in a way we didn’t in the past. Why not take our marbles to our own playgrounds and build great businesses and cultures? Our mothers couldn’t do this because the cost was so high – but the costs of everything-about-starting-a-business, including technology, people (i.e., freelancers), real estate (co-working spaces) and support services are coming down. And then no one can relegate you to the less-interesting jobs.

    I am going to go out of my way to support other women. It’s clear now: we can’t do this alone. Another woman who is promoted or celebrated or funded clears the way for another. I am actively looking to buy from women-owned businesses, which is much easier these days — Glossier, Outdoor Voices, and Project September are just a few of a new wave of startups led by women — and avoid companies that remain all-men. I’m just so over supporting them.

    Invest. Having spent my career on Wall Street and now being the founder of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women, I know I’m a broken record on this topic. But men invest to a greater extent than women do, and it costs us. Indeed, I believe investing is the best career advice women aren’t getting. Think about it – are you more able to tell your boss to take this job and shove it if you have more money or less money?

    That’s what I thought. At the end of the day, money is the real key to gender equality.

    Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. You can sign up for early access here. She is also Chair of Ellevate Network, a global professional women’s network. She is the author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work, to be released in January 2017.

  10. Anonymous and unemployed come June says:

    I’m a doctoral candidate doing work in fields that hold much of what Trump has campaigned on as antithetical to both their moral and ethical premises and their findings of empirical fact. I also believe that in my fields, and I would argue this is probably true of all fields (but am not an expert and thus won’t presume knowledge), that research and findings lead to political perspectives, and those political perspectives influence what and how I teach. I am utterly opposed to nearly everything that Trump has put forth as policy recommendation or otherwise hinted at in terms of his structure of governance and likely legislative agenda.

    However, the conversations about suppressing speech on campus and the presumption that all of our students think the same way (and should do so) are troubling and against the very mission of our University. I have been compelled by stories of people who feel that they have been left out by a social structure – which all of us at the University help produce and benefit from – that requires a college education and the debt that comes with it. I thus empathize with our students, staff and faculty who see a Trump presidency as a signal that their needs are being heard, and those people should be able to feel safe in professing those needs, wants and desires.

    To the anonymous professor’s point about coddling our students who feel vulnerable and upset, I think it’s worth attempting to understand why these students feel the way that they do. I don’t believe they are upset simply because their team lost. That’s an understandable assumption in an age where everyone gets a trophy, or worse, where things like “score” aren’t kept because it makes some of us feel bad. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my life, and I’ve been terrible to middling at nearly all of them. This is why I’m an academic, most likely. I have lost a lot and been cut from teams, just as my research has been rejected from journals and/or criticized. I believe I’m better for it, and I believe learning to lose is an essential part of being a person. This election might very well be the first real loss many of our students have felt.

    However, I don’t think that those students, staff and faculty member who are upset by Trump’s presidency are upset because they lost. I think they are upset because the person who will soon run the country (with the support of both the house and the senate, and soon steer the Supreme Court) has, throughout his campaign, specifically targeted these students and their families as precisely what is wrong with the country, and thus has campaigned on various suggestions or promises that they must somehow be made to matter less or be made not to exist through fear, intimidation or outright force. The fear that comes from being targeted like that is different than just being upset that their candidate did not win and that their political perspective isn’t supported. Much (but not all) of Trump’s campaign was run against people and their identities, not against political viewpoints. I think that’s an important difference. Erecting a hawkish policy to engage terror cells is different than proposing a ban on all Muslims from entering the country, or a suggestion that Muslim neighborhoods need to put on watch. It’s different than suggesting that the war crime of torturing innocent family members of radicalized ISIS members is not only permissible but should be encouraged. A certain understanding of the constitution’s definition of marriage is different than having a vice president who has advocated for conversion therapy, as though who you are is aberrational and needs to be eliminated. Suggesting reforms to immigration policy is different than figuring immigrants as dangerous hordes that need to be kept back by a wall or swiftly rounded up on the basis of appearing illegal. Promoting a trickle-down economic plan to invigorate job growth in inner-cities is different than declaring that stop-and-frisk policies should be resumed – a practice that is, by definition, presuming guilt based on race and appearance. Saying that a journalist is biased is different than targeting his physical disability as evidence of incompetence. Questioning juridical proceedings according to different interpretations of the law is different than suggesting that the judge’s parents make him incapable of understanding the law and disqualified from his duties. Arguing about the moral implications and complexities of abortion is different than saying that women who have the legal procedure should be punished. Challenging a journalist’s perspective is different than suggesting that menstruation makes her incapable. Holding dear certain gender norms is different than professing an ability to sexually assault because of fame.

    Being on the losing side of a political disagreement is different than being faced with increasingly emboldened and very public acts of overt threats of elimination and/or punishment.

    Students who have, for much of their life, feared that they do not belong, have just been told that, in fact, they do not belong. And now the president, his army, his cabinet, the senate, the house, the Supreme Court and an increasingly emboldened group of armed self-styled militias are willing to further confirm this.

    Whether or not Trump’s fomenting was done purely as a way to secure votes from a slighted base, the threat of violence and harm is real, and I am sure it is only a matter of time before physical violence and harm follows these threats. That is why students, staff and faculty need safety.

    Also – though I reject the equivalency of a college education to solely the production of a work force, but, yeah – a person can stay home from work for any reason they want. It’s been my experience that most of my bosses have not been hard-nosed, task-masters with no sense of compassion. Not everyone works in the kinds of jobs I’ve had, which come with sick days and personal days. I get that they’re a privilege. But let’s not pretend that people haven’t shown up to work for more dubious reasons.

  11. Trond Jacobsen says:

    This is what the Trump election has unleashed and why such a forceful and united response is so critical. SPLC and other organizations are reporting a large increase in such incidents on campuses in the wake of the election.

    In Royal Oak Michigan middle school kids taunted their peers with the chant “build that wall”.

    The n-word was spray-painted on a building on the EMU campus in Ypsilanti.

    I could go on, sadly.

    There was no comparable upsurge in these incidents (which unfortunately were all-too-common before Trump) when George Bush was elected. There was no comparable increase when the McCain or the Romney campaigns ended in defeat. There was an increase (because of opposition to a black president) but not on the scale engendered by Trump. Words matter.

    This is a unique moment and many in our community are uniquely vulnerable. Because it is not like past elections the admonition to just get over it seems misplaced. The condescension that students who are afraid are “snowflakes” is offensive when the threat appears to be real and growing.

  12. dog says:

    As some of you may know through your affiliations with various ssources, there is a petition circulating to block Donald Trump’s selection of Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute ( to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. According to some, there is a possibility that Ebell would become the future U.S. EPA Administrator.

    Here is a link to the petition: