Penn State

Students gather to discuss how to move forward after election

About 100 people gathered on Friday evening in Willard Building on Penn State’s campus to discuss the presidential election and ways to move forward from the outcome they felt was troubling.

Haydn Hornstein-Platt, a senior studying psychology and sociology, said she had been having conversations about the election of Donald Trump as president and felt like people needed a place to talk about it. So she created a Facebook event.

“The more events like this the better,” she said.

The event is not anti-Trump or anti-Trump supporters, she said. It’s about how to move forward.

Cynthia Young, head of Penn State’s African-American Studies department, addressed the group, saying it’s important to her that the university remains a safe space.

She said she’s gotten several reports of harassment relating to the election, and is encouraging anyone who’s been harassed or knows other people who have been to contact her.

During the event, people split up into groups to discuss their reactions to and feelings about the election. It was also an opportunity for people to share upcoming community events and brainstorm.

About halfway through, everyone came back together.

Javier Casado Pérez, a doctorate student in counselor education, told the room he felt the conversation was about what white people could do, that it was a space created by white people and facilitated by them.

Solidarity means elevating minority and oppressed voices, he said.

It sparked a conversation among the whole group that lasted about an hour on how to have these kinds of conversation so everyone’s voice is heard.

Just one person feeling that his or her voice is diminished is a problem, said Kyler Sherman-Wilkins, a doctorate student in sociology and demography.

These are conversations that need to be had and shouldn’t be backed away from, he said.

“I don’t want this divide we have to get wider,” said Brian Davis, a doctorate student in astrophysics.

At the end of the discussion, Casado Pérez said that was the kind of conversation he had been advocating for earlier.