As the transition process for Donald Trump’s presidency continues to unfold, students have every right to express concern over important political issues, whether they relate to the environment, reproductive rights, the status of immigrants or affordable health care. The documented rise of hate crimes targeting various minority groups is also cause for serious concern.
It is thus unsurprising that students on campus have responded overwhelmingly with shock, grief and in some cases, anger (see Hopes and fears: Campus reacts to Trump).
Whether it is through a midnight vigil, hosting events raising awareness about a social issues, fundraising for nonprofits, marching in protest or perhaps just expressing frustration on social media, we must realize that everyone is processing this event differently, and that they deserve our empathy and respect.
To make matters more thorny, many of the current issues at stake feel deeply personal or emotionally charged for many — and rightfully so. Nonetheless, now is not the time to balk from engaging in dialogue with those whom we may vehemently disagree; we must strive for greater communication and understanding whenever we can.
These times can be especially trying for students who are a part of marginalized communities, as they may feel frustrated or angry at having to continually explain their struggles to those who do not share in them. It is at times like these where allies are crucial in alleviating that burden; those of us who have the ability or energy to speak up share a responsibility in promoting the rights of oppressed groups.
Be an ally not just in their moments of distress, but in the small conversations you have with those around you, where you have the power to shift mindsets and elevate the discourse.
We often hear that Rice students are as a whole apathetic, but this election has proven otherwise. As we see our community mobilize and rally in solidarity, we are reminded of perhaps the one positive outcome of Tuesday’s election results: We have been forced to acknowledge the many serious issues facing our society, issues that for many oppressed groups have always been a daily reality. Now the rest of us have to pay attention, too.