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PCS Reacts to Trump’s Victory

Isabel Folger

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The evening of Tuesday, November 8, 2016 held bad news for some and good news for others. Americans across the country who voted for Donald Trump as President of the United States were satisfied, if not jubilant. However, for the 75% of Santa Cruz voters who supported Hillary Clinton for the position, Trump’s victory was devastating.

For sophomore Roxana Ortiz, the election results were “shocking.” The next day at school, “it was all people were talking about. Everybody was kind of depressed, except for a few.”

“As I walked through the door, I could just feel the gloomy air circulating around me,” says freshman Rina Rossi. “Teachers were very comforting…but there were a lot of tears.”

On November 9th, the morning after the election, Principal Simon Fletcher sent an email to the PCS faculty encouraging them to “discuss the underlying reasons for the result, discuss the perceived and real concerns about a Trump presidency, and by all means discuss the perceived and real potential upside as well.”

English Department Chair and teacher Christine DeCaporale believed it was important to “have a discussion in class without alienating anyone.” She adds, “I tried to give a little bit of political and historical context to the kids…my job as a teacher was to bring reason to the discussion, and not emotion.”

Other teachers discussed the election as well. “Ms. Roth [a 7th and 9th grade English teacher] gave a very heartwarming talk about fear with the election,” says Rina.

“There are a lot of really extreme people on the Trump side,” says a PCS student, “but I know plenty of people who…aren’t white supremacists or bigots, they just agreed with the type of change that Trump was promising more than that of Hillary….In California, we live in a bubble, and it’s harder to have that opinion without being made fun of for it.”

It’s true that this area of the country is more left-leaning than the rest. California hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988, and in Santa Cruz County, 13.4% more votes were cast for Clinton than in California overall.

“It’s important for both sides to be able to understand the opposing side’s argument,” says sophomore Yosef Feinberg, a student who supports Trump. “Growing up in this community, which is mostly Democrats, I think I’ve learned a lot from people. Originally I didn’t support gay marriage; now I do. I think my political views…have been changed by the people around me.”

Many students, including Roxana Ortiz, felt personally affected by the results: “I’m a Latina, and he [Donald Trump] was talking a lot about immigration reforms,” she says. “That was kind of scary, because I know a lot of people who are illegal here. [There is a big] difference between here and other schools in Santa Cruz. My mom teaches [in Soquel], and there’s been a lot of racial tension there. I think it’s very nice that I’m at a school where I’m accepted, instead of being pushed away.”

“[My dad] is not an American citizen,” shares sophomore Anna Lauridsen. “He’s not that worried, because he’s a white man in America, but he was still concerned about other immigrants.”

Rina notes that Trump’s election “hurt me on a personal level” because of the “countless derogatory statements [Trump made] about women.”

“I was shocked that someone who behaved so crudely…and expressed disgust for women and minorities could be elected to represent our country,” says a PCS parent. “[Thankfully] I live in a place that does value diversity and tolerance….I hope that that is a culture that PCS can continue to have, in the midst of ignorance and prejudice.”

The effects and controversy over the election will, unfortunately, continue far beyond the next four years. However, students and teachers on both sides agree that it is essential to maintain a culture of acceptance. As long as this ensues, students will be comfortable in an environment they know will be safe for themselves.

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PCS Reacts to Trump’s Victory