Barnard students’ dreams of a female presidency were shattered on Tuesday night following the presidential election of Donald Trump.
Sentiments had remained high earlier in the evening, as Barnard students interviewed 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 diminished. 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.
Student Government Association Vice President for Campus Life Angela Beam, BC ’18 and a former Spectator editorial cartoonist, who has been a vocal Clinton supporter, said she didn’t expect that Trump would have succeeded.
“I'm really just in shock,” Beam said. “Although it was very close at times, it seemed just 12 hours ago that she was pretty set to win.”
SGA President Sara Heiny, BC ’17, said she was disappointed to see Clinton, whom she considered to be the significantly better candidate, lose to Trump.
“The fact that Hillary Clinton could not win this election, based on her years of experience and the relativeness of her experience to the position that she's running for, was incredibly surprising to me,” Heiny, speaking on behalf of herself and not the council, said.
She added that though Clinton did not win the election, it didn’t mean that others would not be able to in the future.
“The glass ceiling is something that I've never quite bought into, but I know it's there,” Heiny 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.
“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 of generations of young girls and women who want to go into politics and want to be leaders in anything,” Heiny said.
Beam said she believed that the current election cycle had sparked a noticeable change among 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.”
Barnard will be hosting a town hall discussion on Wednesday with Provost Linda Bell, assistant professor of economics Belinda Archibong, political science and urban studies professor Kim Johnson, assistant professor of political science Kate Krimmel, and assistant professor of political science Michael Miller to discuss the results of the election.
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. “I think a Trump presidency is going to be incredibly difficult as it is. It's going to be made even more difficult by people who are actively tearing each other down based on their vote or based on anything else, so I think avoiding that type of dynamic will be really important in the future.”
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 contributed reporting.