As the polls closed across the country on Nov. 8, Wittenberg students gathered for one of the biggest nights of the year. Perhaps the most popular spot on campus to witness the historic 2016 election results was at the Presidential Election Watch Party, hosted in the CDR and sponsored by Student Senate, Union Board, College Republicans, College Democrats and the Office of Student Involvement.
The cafeteria was transformed for the event with red, white and blue streamers and balloons. Featuring trivia, music from W.U.S.O., a photo booth, presidential impressions, a cash bar and patriotic appetizers and desserts, the event brought students from all political beliefs together to share in the monumental election. Live television coverage by MSNBC and CNN were playing on two different screens while students sat with friends.
The election marked the first time many students could cast their vote for the next president. For some, the night was filled with excitement. For others, anxiety.
Erykah Andrews, ‘20, was seated in the CDR with a table of friends watching the results, decked out in Hillary Clinton buttons, shirts and stickers.
“I’ve been anxious since I woke up,” Andrews said.
Talia Meechan, ‘20, also expressed nervousness regarding the night.
“I’m nervous about everything,” Meechan said. “I think with either winner, there might be riots either way.”
Other students were less nervous and more apathetic or hopeful about the future of the country.
“No matter who wins, America loses,” Matt Poretsky, ’19, said.
Sahaj Vohra, ‘19, also expressed his feelings regarding the results.
“No matter who wins, we need to work together,” Vohra said.
As the evening progressed and results from swing states came in, the room became more emotionally charged. Students tried to distract themselves with a lighthearted game of trivia, hosted by chemistry professor Ray Dudek. Others were impatiently checking social media for the most up-to-date results.
Once Trump gained the lead over Clinton, some students groaned and grimaced. A small group of male students could be seen cheering each time Trump won a state. Eventually, the crowd fell silent, their hands covering their mouths in disbelief. A few were sobbing. As the event was winding down, it quickly became apparent that the election was over for Clinton.
By the time the event ended at midnight, most students had left the CDR to watch the rest of the results in the comfort of their dorm rooms or houses. At 2:31 a.m. on Nov. 9, the Associated Press officially announced Trump was the president-elect.
Campus reactions on Wednesday were raw and emotional. While some students are celebrating Trump’s victory, many are discouraged by the outcome.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” Alyssa Lane, ‘17, said. “Last night, I felt numb.”
Despite her disappointment, Lane is determined to move forward and support her peers.
“There are two different approaches. First, we are in mourning,” she said. “The next step is to band together and know that we can’t let one leader tear us apart.” Lauren Instenes, ‘17, agrees.
“Hillary was a champion for human rights, and she still is even in defeat. She reminded me today that I am glad to live in a democracy,” Instenes said. “Though this election is very sad and scary, we have laws to protect us, and we will also not give up the fight ourselves. We will not let our rights be taken away, and we will continue to try to work towards a more equal and accepting country.”