During the presidential campaign, N.C. Central University was buzzing with an unmistakable energy.
In October, former Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine along with Durham basketball legend Grant Hill visited the verdant green to get students excited about early voting. They convinced students that North Carolina could sweep the election for democratic candidates.
And then on Nov. 3 Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to the W.G. Pearson Cafeteria with music icon Pharrell Williams. For students pulling for a Clinton victory, it seemed as if everything was panning out perfectly.
Then Election Day came. And the Donald Trump who many said had no path to victory became the president-elect overnight, thanks to a surprising come-from-behind victory.
In the days following the end of one of the most politically divisive election cycles in American history, the Campus Echo reached out to the NCCU community to find out how Eagles are reacting to the prospect of a Trump presidency.
First of all, how did he do it?
Criminal justice and psychology junior Ashley Hurst said that Trump’s victory was set up by many American’s animosity towards President Barack Obama.
“I feel like it was a ‘white lash.’ People were very mad at the fact that there was a black president in office,” she said. “It really just shows how much hate and how much oppression and how much — just discrimination is circulated in the country.”
Hurst called Trump’s campaign “strategic,” adding that Hillary could have done more to secure a victory.
“If I can’t call him any other good name, I can call him a businessman,” she said. “He made sure to hit the states that he knew he would win, but he also hit states where he knew he was on the brink.”
An art senior who wished to go by “Peace” said that Trump’s election reveals “how Americans really feel.”
“This is the first time our president has had no experience,” he said. “It’s a big shock to the world. He was saying what others wouldn’t say.”
On campus, a feeling of surprise was a common reaction among students and staff.
“I pretty much thought Hillary had it locked in,” said political science junior Xavier Guions. “I really didn’t think he would have as many voters turnout as he had. And all the polls had her leading.”
Eric Morris, a government documents technician at the James E. Shepard Library said he was feeling confident in a Clinton victory leading up to Election Day. Then the results started coming in, making him nervous.
“I was down towards the end, but I was still hopeful that we would pull something through, at least the Senate. But that went awry, as well,” Morris said. “I had some hope, but I was really surprised — just devastated.”
Then, surprise gave way to worry.
“I have two strikes, personally, because he’s sexist and he’s racist. I’m black and a woman, and so that really scares me,” Hurst said.
Morris, who said he followed the election online as it played out, said “I think we’re headed for complete disaster in this country.”
And while every student the Campus Echo talked to was hoping for a different outcome, some students said they are still feeling somewhat optimistic.
Political science senior Chase Norwood said he doesn’t think Trump’s time in the White House will be “as bad as everyone thinks.”
“Trump was originally registered as a Democrat. In terms of ideology, when it comes to economics, he’s more liberal than Hillary is, and lots of people don’t understand that,” Norwood said. “Of course, I was devastated because I voted for Hillary, not because I actually liked her; I just felt like she was the lesser of two evils.”
Guions said he is hoping Trump “does a good job.”
“Maybe he’ll get in there and turn things around, try to make things better,” he said. “He’ll have a lot of influence around him that could help him do some good for the country. So, I’m kind of optimistic.”
Norwood said that some of Trump’s policies that he has laid out during the election cycle, such as building a wall on our border with Mexico and banning Muslims from entering the country, will not actually happen during his term.
“I feel like once he gets into office and realizes some of the implications of the nonsense he’s been saying, he’ll tone down,” said Norwood. “He’s already the president, now. He doesn’t have to lie anymore.”
Though “devastated” when he realized that Trump would assume the highest office in the country, Morris said he hopes Trump succeeds, “but I hope he succeeds in a nice way, a good way.”
NCCU Acting Chancellor Johnson Akinleye told students via email that “regardless of your position regarding the outcomes of the election, the election cycles represented the democratic process at work,”calling it “something that we must all embrace.”