Student supporters of Donald Trump defend their beliefs in the face of opposition
Trump voters feel they are misunderstood and often need to keep their opinions to themselves out of fear.
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For Nicole Hansen, a junior accounting major, Donald Trump’s lewd comments in a video leaked from “Access Hollywood,” lack of political experience and constant controversial media attention are not stopping her from supporting her candidate.
“I’m a woman, supporting Trump. It doesn’t bother me and it’s the media being biased towards him,” said Hansen. “The media isn’t focused on policy. I’m voting for a president, not the pope.”
With millennials backing Hillary Clinton over Trump by a three to one margin, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll on Oct. 17, young Trump supporters are the minority. But the numbers still show that there are members of this age group agreeing with Trump’s policies.
Some voters supporting Trump at Florida Atlantic have occasionally had to defend their views or choose to not speak them at all.
“I’ve been insulted for liking Trump. I was in the college dorm about a month ago, this guy was totally trashing Trump, saying he was an idiot and racist and all that. I just kept my mouth shut,” said junior computer science major Ryan Graves. “That’s one of the things when you take on the definition of a Trump supporter. He’s such a realist, he’s so outrageous that you have to be outrageous with him and to keep your belief, you’ve got to be a strong person.”
Graves’ friend Diego Segura, a sophomore computer science major agrees and feels he has also come under verbal attack for what he believes in.
“It’s hard to speak your mind when so many people just call you ignorant, rather than explaining why,” said Segura. “They mainly slander your beliefs or your thoughts politically, that you’re a bigot, racist, xenophobic, all this name calling, but when you bring up a good point they just silence you.”
Even with all the negativity surrounding them, Trump supporters have reasons for favoring their candidate and have not been deterred by others’ opinions toward them.
“I’ve supported him since the GOP nomination,” said Hansen. “His policies have the interest in our country and I believe in his leadership.”
Hansen said she likes that he does not have political experience and that his background is in business, something that he has in common with her father.
“The fact that he doesn’t have experience in government is good, it just means he hasn’t been corrupted yet,” said Hansen. “He has all the traits to be president. Being a businessman, he will surround himself with people who know what he doesn’t. My father is a businessman and that’s what he would do.”
Hansen is 19, and this is the first election she will be able to vote in. Much like her, junior communication major Dylan Calhoun, 20, will also be selecting Trump on the ballot for his first election.
“I tell everybody, for me, when my vote goes in, it’s about my country first. It’s not about myself. I look at it as if my country is getting better, I’ll be better,” said Calhoun. “The country needs strength right now. The past eight years, Obama has been weak. A lot of people would call it diplomatic, I call it weak.”
For the Palmetto Bay native, the rhetoric in Trump’s speeches and his bombastic nature prove he is not interested in being politically correct — something Calhoun feels is a growing concern in our society.
“With Trump, a lot of people don’t like the way that he speaks and the rhetoric that he uses talking about Islam and stuff like that, but it’s the truth and people just don’t like hearing the truth,” said Calhoun. “Nowadays political correctness is being pushed on everybody, it’s being taught in schools. It was just being taught in my class and it really ticked me off.”
During his Interpersonal Communications class, Calhoun started to discuss Trump’s behavior when his teacher brought up a chapter titled “Hate Speech.” While defending the Republican candidate to another student, the conversation was abruptly ended by his professor.
“She doesn’t like talking about politics or religion. When we were asked what was hate speech, someone responded, ‘Trump,’” said Calhoun. “I brought up Islam and how religion has been hijacked by radicals. I mentioned an Islamic Twitter page I found that has to disclaim they are not radical, because that’s how big of an issue it’s become, and she just wanted to cut it short.”
Professors at FAU also find themselves in situations where their political beliefs are challenged and put down.
“I was at a University Faculty Senate meeting and one of the members referred to Trump as a crypto-fascist, but that’s totally inappropriate. Politics shouldn’t enter into this,” said Marshall DeRosa, a professor of political science. “I’ve had kids that have gone to this university and they would tell me that some of the classes and other students, there’s very little tolerance for people with conservative views in the classroom.”
DeRosa considers himself a Libertarian, not a Republican, but does support Trump in this election. Though he does not agree Trump’s behavior, he believes in his message against the establishment.
“He’s not my first choice, I’ll put it that way. Out of the choices we have, I most definitely support him over Clinton,” said DeRosa. “I would prefer somebody that did not behave in his fashion. You have to play what we’re dealt, so he’s the guy.”
DeRosa feels that a lot of Americans have become angry with traditional politicians and the status quo. He is hoping that if Trump is elected, he will be able to make changes in the White House.
“I’m looking forward to voting for Trump, because I see him as a wrecking ball and I want to see those sons of bitches squeal in Washington, to be quite frank,” said DeRosa. “They say he doesn’t have the temperament, I think he has the perfect temperament to go in there and tell people to go to hell and tell people what he’s going to do and that’s the type of leadership we need right now.”
Along with being a political science professor, DeRosa also advises several on-campus conservative student groups including the College Republicans, Turning Point USA and Liberty Caucus.
Member of the College Republicans and sophomore computer engineering major Andrew Paz said, “I was sitting in the library one time with my ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and a girl came up to me and told me to get out of the building.”
During his time at the university, Paz has found that a large amount of professors aren’t private when it comes to their political stances.
“I was in my philosophy class over the summer, my professor Clevis [Headley] made fun of Donald Trump,” said Paz. “A lot of the professors here are biased.”
One 18-year-old Republican feels that generalizing members of political parties is dangerous.
Freshman criminal justice major Jaimie Flores believes that when voters are categorized, it creates tension between supporting members. For that reason, he feels he needs to keep his beliefs to himself.
“I don’t think I can be real public about it because people can get pretty aggressive,” said Flores. “If I was outspoken, people would probably continue on this hate sphere and just hate for no reason, people generalize things way too much.”