Students react to Trump presidency

Members of the College Democrats share their thoughts on the unprecedented results of the election.


(From left to right) Republicans Brandon Walker and Susan Walker duke it out with Democrats Catherine Theriault and Marina Braynon. Brandon Harrington | Contributing Photographer

Joe Pye, News Editor

On Jan. 21, College Democrats member Marina Braynon attended the women’s march in Washington D.C. to protest the wage gap and President Donald Trump, whereas Susan Walker of the College Republicans claims the gap is a myth and that Trump doesn’t discriminate against women.

“If you think women are oppressed then you should be better than the male next to you,” Walker said. “As women we need to just dominate and take over.”

With Braynon as the director of membership and outreach of the Florida Atlantic College Democrats and Walker as the development director for the College Republicans, the two rarely agree on political issues. Following one of the most polarizing elections in United States’ history, they are more torn than ever on the direction of our country under a Trump presidency.

Walker feels that when the government regulates and passes laws on wages and sexual harassment, it creates bigger problems for women.

(From left to right) Susan Walker Development Director for the State Board of Florida College Republicans, Marina Braynon Director of Membership and Outreach FAU College Democrats, Catherine Theriault President of FAU College Democrats, Brandon Walker Chairman of FAU’s College Republicans standing together to amend their differences post-election. Brandon Harrington | Contributing Photographer

“If you’re a beautiful woman in the workplace you’re probably going to get hit on,” Walker said. “If you sue and make a big deal out of someone who looked at you, companies aren’t going to want to put women in higher positions.”

College Democrats President Catherine Theriault is uncertain of how the next four years will play out, being part of the LGBT community and a Quebec native who just earned her American citizenship last year. However, the triple major in political science, French and international business does fear living in the U.S. under a Trump-Pence administration.

“Currently I’m worried about everything he said during the campaign,” Theriault said. “I fear for women, minorities and immigrants.”

Theriault feels that former President Barack Obama made an impact for marginalized and low-income communities by legalizing same-sex marriage and enacting the Affordable Care Act.

“I think [Trump] ran his entire campaign on reversing all that Obama did under his term,” Theriault said. “Saying ‘Make America Great Again,’ for a lot of us, it’s not going to be great. Maybe for us it never was.”

Trump’s selection of Vice President Mike Pence, a politician who strongly opposes marriage equality for same-sex couples and believes being gay is a personal choice, is one major factor that bothers Theriault about Trump’s presidency.

“The people that he has appointed and surrounded himself with don’t have a good track record on LGBT and women’s issues,” Theriault said. “Someone like Mike Pence who believes in [conversion] therapy makes people afraid.”

Theriault is just one member of College Democrats who fears Trump will ignore marginalized groups in the U.S.

Vice president of the College Democrats Justin Adkins says he wants to give President Trump a chance, but he is irritated by the prospective Cabinet members Trump has nominated like Betsy DeVos for education secretary and Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

“With his Cabinet nominees, it shows that it’s very unlikely that he does have the best interest in mind for the country,” the junior political science major said. “It’s more like a system of ‘I owe this person.’”

“We are moving towards an oligarchy,” he added.

Adkins is an African-American man who fears that with the way Trump spoke during his campaign will carry over to his presidency.

“I fear there will be more of a cultural line in the United States under Trump,” Adkins said. “When he made certain allegations against the Hispanic population and the Muslim-American community and blamed blacks for the violence in the United States, that really hits home.”

Members of the College Republicans disagree that Trump is insinuating violence among the American people.

Chairman of the College Republicans Brandon Walker blames mainstream media for the way Democrats view Trump.

“He’s not out to advocate for violence, but he is out to be the voice of the people. He has said things that politicians don’t say because he is not your typical politician,” the sophomore political science major said. “The liberal media try to spin him into a monster and look at Trump through a fish bowl.”

Walker feels media outlets like CNN and The New York Times don’t fairly report on Trump.

“What he says — maybe he didn’t specifically mean it the way [the media goes] and turns it around,” Walker said. “I think that when the media is out for ratings and [don’t] give a balanced point of view is where we see a lot of division and hatred.”

He believes that there is a level of hypocrisy in Democrats and liberals following the election with the way people have been protesting Trump and creating social media protests like #Notmypresident.

“I think the Democratic party and liberals are kinda hypocritical in the way that they have reacted to the inauguration this election,” Walker said. “They have completely done away with everything that they said during the campaign basically demonizing Trump for not accepting what the outcome would be if [Hillary Clinton] was elected but the tables have turned.”

Like Theriault, Braynon identifies as LGBT, and is an African-American woman. She has been bothered the most about Trump’s comments regarding abortion.

During a Town Hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin on March 30, 2016, Trump said that he believed there should some form of punishment for women who choose to have abortions.

“I think what upset me the most about Donald Trump and why I decided to go up to D.C. was his stance on abortion. It could’ve just been campaign rhetoric but he still said it,” Braynon said. “Women who have abortions should be punished? I think that’s ridiculous because 1/4 of women in their lifetime will have an abortion. Do you know how many women that is?”

Despite their major differences, members of both organizations are working together to pass legislation in Florida.

“Currently we are trying to work with the College Republicans to write a joint resolution supporting the elimination of sales tax on a feminine hygiene product’s bill,” Adkins said.

Braynon said that aside from their conflicting views, they are still college students and have common interests outside of their political beliefs.

“Our views are so different [but] we actually get together … Someone in our club is dating [a member of the College Republicans]. If we want to debate about policy, heads are going to get ripped off,” Braynon said. “We get along — just when we don’t talk about politics.”

Joe Pye is the news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @jpeg3189.