Updated Nov. 10, 2:12 p.m.
Barnard students' dreams of a female presidency were shattered on Tuesday night following the presidential election of Donald Trump.
Sentiments had run high earlier in the evening, as Barnard students said they were excited for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to pave the way and break new boundaries for women pursuing leadership roles if she became president.
“A big reason I chose Barnard is for women's empowerment and for that thriving women's community,” Amelia Marcantonio-Fields, BC '20, said. “I think that it's important for us to have a woman as a leader so that for future generations, we can have more.”
But as election night continued and electoral votes continued to be called, the prospect of Clinton's presidency quickly weakened. By the time Clinton officially conceded the presidency to Trump early Wednesday morning, several Barnard students and leaders on campus said they were struggling to come to terms with how a Trump presidency—and Clinton's loss—would impact their lives.
Both Grace Cushman, BC '18, and Evelyn Mayo, BC '18, said that Trump's victory represented a significant setback for women in America, especially given his sexist remarks toward women and the allegations that he had sexually assaulted several women.
“At a certain point, it isn't just an ignorant, uninformed election, it is a thoughtful time and ... view of what this man looks like and what he represents for women, and people chose him,” Cushman said.
“I feel threatened as a woman because I know, based on Trump's words and actions, that he hates me. I also know that he hates a lot of other people more than me—people that I love, respect, and who have made me the person that I am today,” Mayo said. “And for that, I could never forgive him. He is violent and a threat to anyone who is not a straight white man.”
Student Government Association President Sara Heiny, BC '17, said that while she was disappointed to see Clinton—whom she considered to be the significantly better candidate—lose to Trump, it didn't mean that other women in the future would not be able to win the presidency.
“The glass ceiling is something that I've never quite bought into, but I know it's there,” Heiny, speaking on behalf of herself and not the council, said. “The fact that Hillary Clinton did not win this election is not to say that the glass ceiling can't be broken—just that there needs to be more pressure from more sides.”
For many Barnard students in support of Clinton, the election represented more than just getting a woman into the Oval Office.
“I still got to vote for a woman, which is huge, but the fact that she didn't win feels like a huge setback,” Cushman said. “The hard part is if she isn't going to be elected, who is? There are people that keep saying she couldn't win because she's a woman, but it's so much more than that, and at the same time, it's such a big part of that.”
“There was definitely a lot of hope among Barnard students to see that female president up there leading the country and to have her there as a role model for all future generations of young girls and women who want to go into politics and want to be leaders in anything,” Heiny said.
SGA Vice President for Campus Life and Clinton supporter Angela Beam, BC '18 and a former Spectator editorial cartoonist, said she believed that the current election cycle had sparked a noticeable change within Barnard's student body.
“As Barnard students, we're typically pretty outspoken to begin with, and I think that seeing a female candidate in this election really inspired a lot of people, aside from how excited they typically get about politics,” she said. “Even if it wasn't in traditional forms of campaigning, it was definitely something that was consistently discussed on campus.”
Moving forward, Heiny said that it was important that the student body come together, rather than move further apart, due to the outcome of the vote.
“As much as I dislike Trump, there definitely needs to be some healing when it goes on now,” Heiny said.
SGA First-Year Class President Rose Reiken, BC '20, said that despite the result of the election and Trump's actions toward women, Barnard students could still push back and fight for change.
“While it is absolutely terrifying to be in a country in which our gender is not respected, being in a women's college also gives us a community of empowered women that we can then stand up with and fight against what Trump is going to be propagating,” she said.
Juliana Greene and Aubri Juhasz contributed reporting.