After the Storm

Isabel Adler reports on how NYU Shanghai reacted to the recent U.S. elections.

One of the most contested and unpredictable U.S. election cycles in recent history reached its conclusion on Nov. 9 when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America.

The environment in NYU Shanghai’s second floor cafe that day was unlike any other day on campus. The election was broadcasted onto a singular flat screen television. Hundreds of students and faculty members piled into chairs, bean bags, and even sprawled out on the floor to watch the monumental night unfold.

As Trump’s electoral college number grew closer and closer to 270, a nervous, anxious, and slightly terrified atmosphere brewed stronger and stronger in the second floor cafe.

The moment Trump was declared the President-Elect, some students and faculty burst into tears.

Millions of people shared their opinions and reactions to the election, as seen on Facebook, Twitter, and just about every other form of social media; and not just from the U.S. People all over the world voiced their fear, surprise, anger, and even elation towards Trump’s victory.

NYU’s diverse makeup provided for a fascinating array of opinions. From professors to students, everyone had their own commentary.

Global Perspectives on Society professor I-Yi Hsieh, originally from Taiwan, spent almost a decade in the United States getting her PhD and teaching at NYU. She expressed her concerns regarding the future of America in the notion of fostering a progressive, forward-thinking nation.

“The rise of Trumpism alongside the new American racism and sexism validated in this election is very scary. I am at this moment of my career, as every new PhD is, thinking about whether I want to continue pursuing a job in the States,” Hsieh said. “The fact that this election result will likely bring about the cut of educational funding, the overturn of Obamacare & women’s reproductive rights, the attack of free speech, and more racial and gender tension in the already very troubled American society gives me a second thought. This America simply doesn’t look that promising for critical and progressive thinking.”

Freshman Evelyn Patrell-Fazio also expressed her concerns following the election. In particular, she fears that the U.S. cannot have a president that makes so many fearful for their lives.

“I have friends at the University of Virginia, they’re African American. They told me that after the election, they were chased around campus into their dorm rooms. People were screaming at them to ‘get out.’ They said it was terrifying,” Patrell-Fazio said .

Senior Usama Shahid saw the election of Donald Trump coming. After spending a year in New York, he realized that many people there were not taking Trump seriously enough when in reality, many Americans were supporters. He contemplated the consequences for  non- U.S. residents.

“Whatever goes on in the Trump presidency will effect me politically. Pakistan and the United States have a complicated relationship. For the United States, the initial blowback will be terrible, it already is, and I think the U.S. is in for a tough time socially. But, I do think his presidency will open up a necessary conversation in the United States, I mean half the population did vote for him,” Shahid said.

Many Chinese students have expressed their confusion as to what happened with the election. The microcosm of NYU Shanghai was very much pro-Hillary. Freshman Wang Dashan commented on not just the confusion he felt, but also his admiration for the NYU Shanghai community.

“Everyone here looked so upset about the outcome of the election. Even though many people seemed to support Hillary, the American people chose Trump. I now realize that maybe the picture I saw here was just one aspect of the American society,” Wang said

Despite his confusion, he expressed his feelings toward the bond he observed between many students.  “I was so touched by you guys and your strong sense of citizenship. You consider your own destinies bonded tightly with your country. That’s not always the case in China.”

For sophomore Andre Lucas, neither candidate proved worthy. After graduation, he wanted to work in renewable energy because of the pressing global climate change issues. But, with Trump as president, Lucas doubts his future in the field.

“The choice of candidate came down to a candidate under an FBI investigation or a candidate facing a rape accusation. But besides all that, there was a 50% chance that a Republican who doesn’t believe in global warming and, more importantly doesn’t see the potential of renewable energy, could be elected into office,” Lucas said.  “The United States and the rest of the world doesn’t have another four years to wait before our environmental issue is finally recognized as the biggest problem that we have ever had to face. My plan after graduation was to start a non-profit solar company, but now I’m not so sure that will be a possibility.”

However, in the seemingly entirely liberal community of NYU Shanghai, there are a few Trump supporters. One student, who wishes to remain unnamed, hopes that Trump’s comments about race, sexuality, religion, and women will not lead to any decisions harming the welfare of the American people and that he can do what he’s supposed to do and lead the country.

“I think Trump will be good for the economy considering his views on infrastructure spending, military spending, as well as his tax policy. I do feel concerned about his polarizing views and his statements about race and sex, but I’m hopeful that he will look past all of that and not do anything divisive. I hope we can all understand that he is our president now and we should all give him a chance so that we can move this country forward,” said the student.

Prior to his election, Trump released an extensive hundred day plan; addressing everything from repealing Obamacare to withdrawing from NAFTA to freezing the hire of federal workers. At this time, it’s uncertain how many of these goals are actually attainable. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell commented on Trump’s wish to impose a term limit for members of Congress, saying that the topic will not be on the agenda of the Senate. Given that Trump has no technical role in the amendment possibility, it seems unlikely that a limit like this will actually come to being.

The next four years certainly bring about a lot of change. The future of the United States is honestly unknown at this point;  the rest of the world will be anxiously watching.

This article was written by Isabel Adler. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Millie Wong

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