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After the election of President Donald J. Trump on Nov. 8, 2016, we saw the aftermath take the country and split it in two. Our nation is more divided than it has ever been before, and there is an ongoing war between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
This separation is only getting worse, according to the Pew Research Center. We see a large percent of people standing with their party on every issue, with 33 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats remaining consistently loyal to their party. Also we have seen a rise in partisan animosity, since 1994 the number of people who view the opposite party as highly negative has more than doubled. This is evident across the country with the protest spike since Trump’s election. We’ve seen the DACA protest, Charlottesville and The Women’s March, which was the largest protest in U.S. history. Protests like these are telling of the outrage both parties are feeling.
Here at CU Boulder it’s hard to ignore the overlaying tension between our two political parties. Even though I am just entering into this environment, this political uneasiness has been all too obvious for me. Every day I witness students refuse to say Trump’s name, afraid to start an argument. Worse yet I see students resorting to aggression to get their point across, discounting the other opinion without even hearing what they have to say.
This tension among our students and faculty is fueled by the fact that most of our teachers share a common dislike for our president. According to a 2014 CU Climate Study, 6 percent of Boulder faculty are Republican and 42 percent are Democratic. While this might be the impression we get from our teachers, that same survey showed that we have a more even distribution of political parties among our students, with 17.1 percent of our students being Republican and 28.2 percent affiliating with Democrats.
Even though there clearly is a Republican presence on campus, they aren’t as numerous as the liberal side. The reason for their silence is the tensions caused by the stereotypes that surrounds Boulder. We were ranked fourth as the Most Liberal Colleges in Colorado by Niche.
I wasn’t able to sit through a class my first week without hearing the professor rant about how Trump is going to ruin the world. In geography it was Trump’s impacts on climate change and displaced people, in my journalism through film class it was Trump’s war on the media, in philosophy it was how Trump is impacting the current state of our democracy. You could feel the tension of the students who disagreed with the professor, because without directly stating their hatred for Trump the professors created a climate which implied that differing views would be disregarded.
This is not how our nation should be handling the issues at hand; silence is not the solution for differing opinions. We will never start to see bipartisanship in our government or in our community if everyone is continually enraged by the status of our government, but is not doing or saying anything to change it.
While we have seen the university take some steps towards opening up the conversation in the past with Turning Point USA Boulder, an organization whose stated mission is having nonpartisan discussions and brought former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos to Boulder, Colorado University could be taking far more steps to supply a forum for students to express their differing views. If a teacher feels it necessary to discuss Trump along with the state of our nation, they should open up a discussion to the students that represent both sides of the argument. The university ought to allow for a format in which students feel comfortable to share their opinions and that their opposing views are respected.
I think it’s time we start to break down the barriers caused by this election. Yes we have differing opinions, we sit on opposite sides of the fence, but if people with opposing views could just sit down and listen to both sides, we would start to see solutions instead of worsening problems and awkward silence. I’m not saying anyone will have to change their minds, just simply listen.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emma Shanahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.