365 days later


Hayley Harding / Digital Managing Editor

Election Day was a blur.


For Sam Miller, then the president of Ohio University College Democrats, it began at 4 a.m. Miller worked with the Hillary Clinton campaign to coordinate volunteers on campus, which meant everything from ensuring people weren’t being wrongfully turned away at polls to arranging an impromptu counterprotest against an anti-abortion group.


She was sent food, dozens of pizzas and hundreds of tacos, to give to voters in line to make sure people in line to vote wouldn’t need to leave. At one point, she called Clinton’s state campaign to ask it to stop sending food because workers at the polling stations wouldn’t let her distribute food since the activity was too close to the polling location.


“(The campaign) said, ‘Well, we just ordered you 25 more pizzas. Good luck,’” Miller, a senior studying strategic communication who is a member of The Post publishing board, said. “I was like, ‘That’s not what I need right now!’ … I remember that being a huge frustration.”


Polls closed at 7:30 p.m., but she stood at the Baker Center polling location until every voter left at some point around 10 p.m. She did an interview with a local TV station. She went to The Pigskin Bar and Grille, where local Democrats usually have their election night parties, to watch the results roll in around the nation.


She went there confident Clinton would be the first female president of the U.S.


David Parkhill, then the president of OU College Republicans, described Election Day as “almost unreal.”


A few days before the election, a friend Parkhill worked with throughout the election called to ask if he had prepared comments for reporters and others about why Donald Trump had lost. Parkhill had, because in his words, he thought “it (was) probably going to be a bloodbath” for the Republican Party.


For Parkhill, the day was pretty typical, and few details stand out to him. He voted — although he originally went to the wrong polling place. After he left work for the day, he watched results with friends. He didn’t know what to expect, but as the night went on, races across the county and state looked good for the Republican Party.


“It was pretty much just down to Trump,” Parkhill said. “We were still at my house watching those roll in, and every other second you refreshed, it was Hillary, Trump, Hillary, Trump."


It was tense. For Miller, the watch party at The Pigskin began almost celebratory in nature. Miller’s night looked like many across the nation for Democrats and others who denounced Trump after scandals during the campaign. Many expected a Clinton victory, fueled in no small part by polls from major media outlets across the nation saying the same thing.


When states started flipping from an expected Clinton win to a projected Trump win, however, moods changed dramatically.


“I remember people on my campaign having actual meltdowns,” Miller, now the vice president of College Democrats of Ohio, said. “I had a quick rally the troops moment: I was like, ‘You all need to stop. People on the West Coast are still voting. This can still turn around.’ And at that time, I was still very optimistic.”


When Ohio was finally projected to go for Trump, she was on the phone with her father. He told her he was proud of her for achieving her goal of having Athens County vote primarily for Clinton, although he himself voted for Trump.


She wasn’t surprised — she describes her dad as “a very hardcore Republican,” but the moment was overwhelming.


“I remember being on the phone with him, and I remember looking up at the television and CNN and Wolf Blitzer coming through and being like, ‘Projected winner! Ohio goes red!’” Miller said. “I was like, ‘Dad, I cannot talk to you right now.’ And that is where the night went progressively worse.”


For Parkhill, it was the same point in the night when things got unexpectedly better.


Local Republicans called him to talk about how things were going, and they ended up at a hotel in Columbus with members of the Trump campaign and some OU alumni. There, they watched numbers roll in.


For him, the feeling of validation after supporting Trump — a candidate whose run felt like “every day of the week, something went wrong” — during a victory was incredible.


The news media predicted things completely incorrectly, Parkhill said, and it was “total insanity.”


“It wasn’t the popular vote, but the majority of Americans believed what I believed,” Parkhill said. “The people we needed to come out came out and voted the way we needed them to vote, and just basically proved that the silent majority still exists.”


Trump spoke to the people who felt ignored, Parkhill said. Trump said the right things and struck a chord with voters, and as a result, he won the election.


One year after the presidential election, the intense emotions that arose in the immediate aftermath of the election have, for the most part, subdued. Now, Americans across the country must work with policies enacted by the president.



* * *

For those in Athens, one of the most immediate effects of Trump’s presidency was its implications for education.


Athens City School District Superintendent Tom Gibbs said not much has changed for the district at this point. Education policies generally take several years to implement, so things that have changed since Trump’s election “have little to do” with the president himself.


Trump has changed federal advice in regard to public education and transgender students, Gibbs said. Toward the end of former President Barack Obama’s presidency, his administration issued multiple letters indicating transgender identities would be considered a protected identification under Title IX, meaning districts could not discriminate against trans students or their families.


The State of Ohio has not passed any specific guidelines, however, and Gibbs said the Athens City School District  “continues to respect the rights of all of (its) students, including those who may identify as transgender.”


Changes to Title IX also didn’t change anything at the university level, Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said, although officials spent a lot of time researching and wondering if it would.


The university had to focus on students affected by Trump’s executive orders, one of which originally limited travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Affected students were offered summer housing by OU, but months later, many students remain in limbo, according to a previous Post report.


“The travel bans and executive orders definitely (were) a little bit of a surprise and took up more bandwidth than I ever would have predicted,” Hall-Jones said.

* * *

Athens city officials were against that executive order, going so far as to pass a resolution in opposition of it.


While university officials have not declared OU a sanctuary campus, city officials have moved to make Athens a “welcoming city.” The title implies the city is in support of the international community but comes without a threatened loss of funding from the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies.


“We as a city have taken on — and this went through council, and I support it 110 percent — we have designated ourselves a ‘welcoming city,’” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said. “We are in support of not only the international students who come to Ohio University and in protecting their ability to come here and get a great education, but also others in our community, that we’re not going to go walking around looking for everyone’s papers.”


Patterson clarified that though Athens officials won’t actively seek out the documentation of people, if someone were to commit a felony, they would still be sent through the legal system and immigration officials may be contacted.


Trump made immigration a major part of his platform during one of his first campaign speeches, when he suggested the U.S. should build a wall on its border with Mexico because, in his words, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”


Erick Meza, the president of OU’s Latino Student Union and a junior studying international business, agreed there are problems in Mexico, but he didn’t feel it was fair for Trump to stereotype all Mexicans. Both of Meza’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and became citizens. He said his parents took Trump’s comments hard even though they also recognize problems in Mexico. While he has never felt oppressed, he watched others in the LSU protest Trump’s statements.


Meza, who identifies as conservative but didn’t vote for either Trump or Clinton, said while he agrees the U.S. should not let in people with “extreme criminal backgrounds,” he thinks there are many potential immigrants who may make America a better country.


“If you bring in potential students that might be the leading doctors of America, then for all means, yes,” Meza said. “But if you’re letting in people that have zero interest, criminal backgrounds … obviously, no.”

* * *

Beyond policy topics are the social issues that Americans are aware of.


Trump “emboldened” a lot of people to voice negative opinions about race, gender and other topics that they might not have otherwise acknowledged, Mailé Nguyen, the president of Students Teaching About Racism in Society, or S.T.A.R.S., said.


“Not a lot necessarily has changed, but more of these people are coming forward and it’s becoming more visible,” Nguyen, a senior studying theater in the Honors Tutorial College who uses they/them pronouns, said. They argued that the U.S. still would have dealt with those issues under Clinton, but the problems are likely more prominent now.


Many people are concerned that the progress made on social issues by previous administrations will be undone, delfin bautista, the director of OU’s LGBT Center, said. If Clinton were president, bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, said things would be less unsure because Clinton is “less sporadic.”


Bautista cites the trans military ban, comments Trump allegedly made about Vice President Mike Pence wanting to hang all gay people, the disproportionately high murder rate of trans people and more as reasons LGBT people may feel unsafe.


“It’s not so much (the administration); it’s what they’re inspiring,” bautista said. “I think the boldness (Trump) has inspired is leading to an increase in hate crimes, to the tragedy of homicide, to microaggressions, to people saying things, graffiti and whatnot.”


Changes in social policies have the potential for lasting implications.


Loran Marsan, a women’s, gender and sexuality studies lecturer, said access to birth control and abortions are specifically at severe risk. Marsan said studies have shown that lack of access to such things don’t eliminate abortions but instead force people to get them in secret, which can be more dangerous.


She also worried about the impacts of restricting sexual health education classes in schools.


“When you take that out, you increase the likelihood of teen pregnancy and (sexually transmitted infections), which in turn puts more pressure on the healthcare system and leads to more women seeking abortion,” Marsan said. “It does nothing to reduce the number. It just makes them unsafe.”

* * *

For those in the Republican Party, the changes took a different form than perhaps anyone expected.


Ryan Evans, a senior studying political science and the president of OU College Republicans, said people were “charged” by the campaign season and the election, and Trump has served to broaden conservative groups.


That may have been because people were looking for a change from establishment candidates, Pete Couladis, the chairman of the Athens County Republican Party, said.


“I know for a fact that people were calling me at home and wanting Trump signs and telling me they were Democrats,” Couladis said. “I know one was telling me he’s never voted for a Republican in his life, but he wanted a Trump sign. … Whether those people stay (Republican) or not, that’s another question.”


Though some argue there is a growing divide between members of the Republican Party, Couladis hasn’t seen that as much at the local level. He said people need to pay attention to local races “and not let good candidates for local and state offices lose because they’re mad at Trump.” He said it’s always been difficult to be a Republican in Athens, but that’s more the result of the political affiliation of the area rather than anything Trump has done.


To Evans, Trump has not changed what it means to be a conservative. The party is still based in conservatism, Evans said, valuing strong economic policies and supporting businesses.


Some argue that Trump’s election led to the rise of the alt-right movement, but Evans said such extremists “are not conservatism at all.”


“(The alt-right is) a disgusting organization,” Evans said. “I think people calling all conservatives racists, bigots, homophobes, all these different names, takes away from the fact that the alt-right is racist. They say, ‘Oh yeah, the alt-right is racist, just like every other conservative.’ It plays down the fact that these people actually are white supremacists.”

* * *

One year after the election, things are largely no longer a blur.


Some policies, such as environmental regulations, have changed dramatically; others, such as tax policy, have yet to change at all. Health care sits somewhere in the middle as something Trump tried to change but has not succeeded with yet.


People’s perspectives on social issues have changed, but for some, that has been an inspiration to get involved, to run for office or to just make their voices heard.


Changes would have come no matter who was elected. For some, however, America just feels different under President Trump.

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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