Students fear Trump regime

Olivia Sullivan - Staff Reporter

From climate change to hate crimes, Highline students had a lot to say at a political forum on Monday morning.

The open, student-driven conversation and question forum focused on the 2016 elections and president-elect, Donald Trump.

More than 175 students, faculty, and staff attended the forum to discuss Trump's campaign promises and ask questions about what is in store for the future of the United States.

The forum also created a space for students to share their first-hand experiences with hate crimes.

Erica Juarez-Ramos is a first-year Highline student. Both of her parents are undocumented immigrants and since the election of Trump, many of her family members have been the victims of hate crimes.

While working at a cosmetics store, Juarez-Ramos was helping a Caucasian client. The client continually asked her who she had voted for and wanted to discuss politics.

After resisting for a while, Juarez-Ramos told the woman her voting decision and about her family life.

"The woman said she refused to be touched by someone whose parents were undocumented," Juarez-Ramos said.

Another time recently, Juarez-Ramos was walking in her neighborhood when a group of men began to yell things at her, such as "Go back to Mexico."

Not only are the hate crimes happening to her, but also to her family members.

Her little brother is in fifth grade, and at just 10 years old, he is facing discrimination from classmates.

"His classmates harassed him and told him that him and his family were going to have to go back to Mexico," Juarez-Ramos said.

When he came home, the little brother asked his parents if this was true, she said. The parents were in tears as they tried to reassure their son and explain why he should not talk about those things.

Paper, envelopes, and pencils were passed around the crowd to encourage students to express their comments or questions, if they did not feel comfortable speaking in front of the crowd.

Although Hillary Clinton won by popular vote, nearing 1.5 million more votes than Trump, he won due to electoral college votes.

"Hillary did not reach out to blue-collar voters in rural areas," said Dr. T.M. Sell, a political science professor at Highline. "Trump did better than expected."

The Electoral College is our system and it won't change without a constitutional amendment, Dr. Sell said.

Throughout his campaign, Trump was infamous for his absurd comments regarding minorities and women, among other groups.

Dr. Ben Gonzalez outlined some of Trump's promises made during the campaign and his position on the matters now.

Trump said the idea to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico is still in the works, Dr. Ben said.

"Trump talked himself into a corner in many circumstances," Dr. Gonzalez said.

As for removing undocumented immigrants from the country, Trump has shifted his focus onto the removal of criminal immigrants.

"[Trump] remains dedicated to deportation," Dr. Gonzalez said.

In areas such as Muslim registration and health care, Trump seems to have unclear definitions and visions of his plans.

"The difficulty with Trump's presidency is that we don't know a lot of these things," said Dr. Gonzalez. "We don't know but there does seem to be resistance growing."

Students questioned whether Trump will apologize for the things he's said.

"There is no requirement for him to apologize," Dr. Gonzalez said. "And he doesn't seem inclined to."

Another Highline student asked if Trump and the Republican-dominated congress have the ability to take away women's rights.

A predominately Republican House of Representatives does increase the likelihood of Trump's administration passing more bills, said Jennifer Ritchey, a political science professor at Highline. It will be harder to strip away human rights, she said.

"They're not really in a position to wave a wand and remove [women's rights] overnight," Dr. Sell said.

There is little to no chance of electors changing their minds, Dr. Sell said.

Trump has recently been hot water over a pending rape trial, controversy over his tax records, and for his Trump University fraud case.

The accuser in the trial withdrew, Trump has used the tax law to his advantage, and he agreed to pay a settlement of $25 million for the fraud case, Dr. Sell said.

"So far, he's dodging those bullets," he said.

Despite the new government leaders, everyone must be wary of the information they take in, said Jennifer Ritchey. It is important to check the creditability.

"If you look around this room, this is what America looks like," Dr. Gonzalez said in the forum. "This country is for all of us. Stand up for your fellow Americans, or just stand up for your fellow human beings."

If people stay silent and ignore the mistreatment, it breeds hate, he said.

"We have much more in common than we have differences," Dr. Sell said.

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