Northeastern students react to a full year of Trump-dom

One year after the election of President Donald J. Trump, students have mixed feelings about his time in office./ Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons
One year after the election of President Donald J. Trump, students have mixed feelings about his time in office./ Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

By Ysabelle Kempe, news correspondent

As citizens headed to the polls this election day, the United States came up on a full year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency. Northeastern is no exception to the rest of the country; there is still a swirling discussion of the good, bad and ugly of Trump’s presidency.

Few voters or news outlets predicted Trump would be the victor in the election, reflected by FiveThirtyEight’s poll-based election prediction that correctly predicted every state former President Barack Obama would win and lose in the 2012 presidential election. Yet, the controversial newcomer won the election in a dramatic climax of events, beating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in an electoral college vote of 306 to 232.

Nicole Moreira, a fifth-year political science major, identifies as a Democrat and said both her positive and negative impressions of Trump have remained consistent over the past year.

“I feel like they don’t really support the majority of Americans in terms of protecting their freedoms. I definitely don’t support the travel ban or his health care policy at all. He also pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement which I don’t agree with,” Moreira said. “I like the fact that his election into office caused people to look deeper into why the political system is flawed in general. The electoral college is something that comes up a lot when talking about his election.”

Students who preferred Trump to Clinton cite his economic policy and fresh take on politics as reasons for initially supporting him. Aubrey Kenderdine, a fourth-year biology and political science combined major, is a member of Northeastern’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and said it is too early to tell whether Trump should be labeled a good or bad president.

“As a libertarian, I was actually excited about the election results. I looked forward to the promises of ‘draining the swamp,’ tax cuts and a new direction for foreign policy,” Kenderdine said. “Unfortunately, in the last year we’ve seen more of the same: corporate welfare expansion, revived civil asset forfeiture and an escalation of war. I am, however, happy to see bureaucratic deregulation, the support of school choice and an improved tax plan in the works, all wins for liberty.”

Maggie Duich, a first-year biochemistry major, identifies as a Republican but is not thrilled with how Trump is leading a majority Republican federal bureaucracy.

“I don’t think he’s a true conservative like he says he is,” she said. “He isn’t strategic in the way he tries to accomplish things. Even if you agree with what he says, he says them in an offensive manner.”

Criticism of the Trump’s offensive rhetoric is not an anomaly among Northeastern students.

“I think he’s a big clown,” said Erik Uhlmann, a first-year computer science major. “I’m disappointed he keeps making racist and sexist comments. It’s scary that people don’t hold him accountable.”

Trump drew in voters with promises of building a wall paid for by Mexico along the southern border of the United States, repealing Obamacare, ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership and suspending immigration from nations known for housing certain terrorist groups.

As Democrats feared and his supporters anticipated, Trump began to follow through on some of these promises. On his first full weekday in office, Trump signed a memorandum withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between 12 countries. He and his administration have been working hard to replace Obamacare, most recently by no longer funding cost-sharing reductions for low-income Americans. Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 restricting refugees and halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“I would say it’s been disruptive,” said Estelle De Zan, a first-year journalism and international affairs double major. “I never thought he would actually become president, and when he did we felt like it was the end of the world. When he started doing stuff like the Muslim ban, it was hard to hear about it even if it didn’t directly affect you.”

For some students, Trump’s policy changes left their daily life intact, no matter how politically disruptive they were.

“Life didn’t change as much as I thought it would,” said Khalil Haji, a first-year computer science major. “I was scared when he won, but I wasn’t personally affected by anything. My day-to-day didn’t change other than a little rage posting on Reddit.”

However, some students are affected by the president’s policies; international students are particularly invested in his policy concerning immigration and travel. 250 students and 31 faculty and staff members were potentially affected by Trump’s travel ban. Audrey Cahyadi, a first-year journalism student, is from from Indonesia and said Trump’s foreign policy is concerning for non-American students.

“I’m not from here, but on a global scale, many of my friends and family say, ‘Hmm, maybe we shouldn’t go to the USA.’ We worry about visas and it’s tiring,” she said.

Instead of seeing Trump’s leadership as frightening, Theo Shaw, a fourth-year electrical engineering physics combined major feels more exasperated with Trump’s presidency than anything.

“I think he’s a buffoon, but he’s going to be impeached soon,” said Theo Shaw, a fourth-year electrical engineering and physics combined major. “He seems too ineffective to be too dangerous, at least domestically.”

Elizabeth Burbage, a fifth year nursing student, expressed annoyance rather than concern with Trump’s leadership as well. She specifically recalled a time when she was travelling to visit her grandparents in Florida, but could not be picked up at the airport since it had been shut down for Trump. She said she was concerned at the way that Trump’s power was affecting the personal lives of Americans.

“The policies you can see clearly how it affects people, but you don’t see that they had to shut down an airport in an area with a lot of elderly people, which hurts them,” Burbage said. “The amount of money and resources it takes for him to go to Palm Beach and play golf is stupid.”

Max Willner-Giwerc, a first-year politics, philosophy and economics major, said he disapproves of Trump’s presidency, but doesn’t believe it’s necessarily all bad.

“I think he’s done a horrible job, but the one silver lining is that people who are looking to do good in this country have banded together,” he said.

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