After a historic Election Day, the University of Pennsylvania is reacting to the first election of one of its own alumni to the highest office of the United States.
Many professors canceled classes and examinations scheduled for Wednesday. A Wharton management professor claimed to “have heard from an unusual number of students this morning that they are unwell” and therefore offered a makeup date for the scheduled midterm. Other professors decided to postpone tests entirely. One Spanish teacher wrote in an email to her class that “the generally unexpected election results are likely to interfere or to have interfered with concentration.”
Other outlets for coping were offered to students as well. Some professors turned Wednesday’s classes into “safe spaces” in which students could freely express their concerns for their futures. On a campus that voted 3612-375 in favor of Hillary Clinton, these open forums were naturally dominated by anti-Trump voices.
A myriad of student organizations also organized a solidarity walk on Wednesday evening. According to the event’s Facebook page, the walk supported “POC, immigrants, POWs, Muslims, Jews, Latinxs, LGBTQ+, minorities, women disabled folks [sic], POWs, anyone and everyone who is affected and would be/will be affected by a Trump Presidency.”
One of the dorms on campus even set up a “breathing space” the night after election day. Cats, a puppy, coloring pages, and snacks were offered to help students “decompress in a low-key and low-stress environment.” The event certainly had a timid and fearful undertone, as students were hesitant to discuss what awaits the United States in January.
The administration of the University issued several statements. At Wednesday’s University Council meeting, Penn President Amy Gutmann tearfully spoke on how “bitter, divisive, and hurtful” this election cycle has been for many Americans. The University Chaplain also reached out to those who “are particularly struggling today” to let them know that they “are deeply valued here at Penn.”