Looking Back at 2016 Reminds Us to Look Forward

Pomona College community members listen to a speech by President David Oxtoby on Nov. 9, 2016. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

“We are still in shock. Over the last 48 hours, in a multitude of different capacities, this country experienced a paradigm shift unlike any that we, as students, have lived through yet.”

Looking back at our issue from the week of Trump’s election, it’s clear we were in panic. You can see it in the long, meandering edition of this column and in the five – five – separate articles covering the student protests and reactions.

We’ve been seriously trying to reflect on the last year of a tumultuous and chaotic presidency. We all know that normalcy has, for many of us, been redefined in Trump-adjusted terms. No matter how you voted, it’s surreal to look back at a time when nuclear war was not a serious worry. Last November, though, the most many of us could do is be afraid.

But how have the 5Cs changed in the last year? What have we as a community done in the wake of the election?

As we touch on in our news section, the alarming actions in D.C. have touched Claremont in the time since. Students helped push Claremont to sanctuary status, rallied at the Ontario and LAX airports after the initial travel ban, and came together as a community in support of DACA this semester.

Our institutions showed up, too. Pitzer declared itself a sanctuary college, while the other colleges, notably Pomona, have reaffirmed protections for undocumented students. Even Keck Science Department faculty released a statement against the Trump administration’s efforts to censor science.

In broad strokes, the actions of the last year have been reactionary. Many in our communities have felt pushed onto the defensive, which is natural in the last 12 months of panic. But now it is time those of us unnerved by the current administration – those worried for their safety and the safety and future of their loved ones – must begin to move forward to enact change.

For many who were negatively impacted by the election, this week marks the anniversary of a dreadful time, and yet it is a hopeful one. This week, the Trumpian candidate in Virginia’s Gubernatorial race, Ed Gillespie--who ran on MS 13-filled campaign ads and Confederate preservation--lost by a healthy margin to Democrat lieutenant governor Ralph Northam. Democratic candidates in the state also won 15 delegates--something thought unthinkable, a notable one being Danica Roem, the first openly trans woman to run for office in Virginia, and who beat incumbent homophobe Robert G. Marshall.

Yes, some of those people only chose to run for office in reaction to Trump and his long-reaching political effect. But these people will now go to work every day to produce a new future, and help define our country not by what it shouldn’t be, but by what it can be. We are excited to see reactionary fear, though well-placed, begin to percolate both on and off our campus.