They came running, screaming, and crying to College Walk at 1 a.m.
Over 200 Columbia students gathered early Wednesday morning at the heart of campus, reeling from Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential victory with a mixture of shock, disgust, and sadness.
“Fuck Donald Trump,” they screamed.
In a stunning upset that defied polling trends from the beginning of the race, Trump won over 270 electoral votes, officially clinching the presidency.
Trump continuously defied social and political norms throughout the election, making degrading comments about Latinos, African Americans, women, the media, and people with disabilities. In the weeks leading up to the election, several women came forward claiming that Trump sexually assaulted them, and a widely circulated video released by The Washington Post captured Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals without permission.
Trump’s victory—driven predominantly by white, older, blue-collar and non-college educated voter demographics—reflected the will of an electorate that was a far cry from that of Columbia’s mostly-liberal campus.
For the majority of students who gathered on College Walk in response to Trump’s victory on early Wednesday morning, the disbelief was overwhelming. One girl sank to the ground and rocked back and forth. Dozens of students cried and hugged each other. Most slumped their shoulders and shook their heads in shock.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” students repeated.
Sophie Neiman, BC ’17, said she felt devastated by Trump’s victory.
“This is catastrophic for women, for minorities, for our country in general,” she said. “I’ve seen people weeping in the streets—I just cried onto my friend's shoulder.”
Other students, referencing Trump’s promise to overturn recent progressive measures like marriage equality and health care, expressed despair.
“My civil rights have been compromised,” Adam Snyder, CC ’19, said regarding his right to marry as a gay American. “With the potential to appoint a new Supreme Court justice, I believe that my civil rights hang in the balance, and I no longer feel confidence, trust, or safety in this country.”
“There are a lot of people who are honestly really betrayed by this. You know there’s been a lot of conversations and a lot of things thrown around tonight—people have texted me being like, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be able to get married tonight,’ or ‘My parents will get deported, maybe my family will get deported,’” Deepti Varathan, CC ’18, said. “They were just nightmares before because we were like 'Oh yeah, Hillary's definitely going to win.’”
“Things don’t look good. But if we have four years of Trump, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice. We are smart, we are together, and we are here,” demonstration organizer Jordan Cline, CC ’19, said. “You have to fight for your neighbor and fight for yourselves. You cannot take Trump as a representative of America.”
Students affiliated with the Columbia University College Republicans could not be reached for comment.
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Eli Lee, Jessica Spitz, and Juliana Greene contributed reporting.