Student Government column
Something that’s always been important to the Student Government President’s Cabinet has been ensuring the comfort of every student on campus. In our meeting immediately following the election results, we reflected on this past year’s tumultuous election. We felt it was necessary to help provide a nonpartisan space where students could find support in each other, faculty, or staff and have productive conversations about how the election affected them over a slice of pizza. We reserved a space in Danforth, created the Facebook page to advertise this “Pizza and Conversation” event, and waited for Nov. 14 to come.
Immediately, I became nervous. How would the night go? The calls I received while the election results came pouring in were so emotional. Was I prepared to revisit that?
Of course, Carnegie Mellon’s response amazed me. Beyond all else, it was incredibly comforting to hear from faculty members who had experienced similar elections and told us we would be able to live to tell the tale, and I’m so grateful that they were so willing to offer us their time to share this experience with us. And of course, the discussions I had throughout the night were rational, analytical, incredibly reflective, and always hopeful.
Misinformation had a major influence over this election. What news sources do people use to get unbiased reporting? Should politicians align their public views with that of their parties to represent them better, or would we rather they stick to their personal values to show strength of character? What were “Not My President” protests hoping to accomplish? When are Facebook comments a good space for conversation, and what makes social media effective for creating discussion? By the time I had to leave to go back to my mousetrap car, I felt like I had a better understanding of how to have productive political conversations, especially with people I hadn’t met before, and I hope everyone else felt as satisfied with their experience as I did with mine.
However, I recognize participation in this event alone doesn’t constitute me as an “excellent citizen” whose civic duties of engagement, compassion, and inclusion are all fulfilled. There are so many intelligent and valued students on campus who didn’t attend this event because they were still struggling with the emotions they might be feeling, or felt like their thoughts wouldn’t be welcomed on such a liberal campus. We should all consider how we can offer support to everyone who has felt forgotten in this election, be it in its results or in its reactions. Regardless of your political leaning, you deserve respect and love. Choosing compassion can be hard but makes a better campus for us all.
If you’re feeling scared about your permanence in the United States or the health of the industry you’re hoping to progress to after graduation, know that there are always faculty and staff members willing to listen and give advice. Don’t know where to start? You can always reach out to any member of the President’s Cabinet!