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College administration, faculty support students post-election

| Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fears of not being heard, of experiencing violence, of losing relationships, of being ignored, and silenced by peers and the administration were some of the common fears students wrote on notecards and displayed anonymously on a wall as part of a gathering Monday night hosted by College President Jan Cervelli and Catherine Pittman, professor of psychology, to help the Saint Mary’s community reconcile and communicate after a divisive election cycle.

WEB - 20161115, 20161114, Allison Culver, Cervelli, SMC presidentNicole Caratas | The Observer

Cervelli voiced the College’s support of students.

“I am concerned, just like you are,” Cervelli said. “I am concerned with a lot of what’s come out of the election results — I’m concerned because I want to make sure that our campus is a model for respect and a demonstration of compassion and love, regardless of your background, beliefs, your race, your sexual orientation, your political beliefs, and it begins by having a conversation and getting to know each other and understanding each other.”

Cervelli said all students will be supported, while any discrimination will not be permitted.

“I want to make it perfectly clear: we do not tolerate intolerance on this campus,” Cervelli said. “I’ll say it again. We do not tolerate intolerance on this campus.

“We will support people who are outraged by the election, and we’ll also support people who supported Trump but don’t want to be demonized for doing it.”

Pittman said she hopes students can process their emotions and fears through the more open communication with people who have different views and beliefs.

“There’s a lot of anxiety from people all over the United States right now,” Pittman said. “This campus is no different. People have a lot of fears and concerns and frustrations. So many times, we want some kind of solution for those, and the solution is going to take years to process some of the issues that people are dealing with.”

In the post-election climate, Pittman said there are actions a person can take to influence her feelings.

“Putting those feelings in words can be helpful for people,” Pittman said. “Listening — having others listen to those words or you listening to other people’s concerns — is a very healing process. Just being heard can be very healing for people.”

Pittman said recognizing and implementing the College’s, as well as the Sisters’, core values of compassion and community are essential to moving forward.

“We’re trying to recommit ourselves to the values of the campus and trying to identify what we are trying to achieve on our campus, typically, and then apply that to how we handle this situation,” Pittman said.

Cervelli said she plans to take the notecards written by students and display them on campus, urging other students to add their fears and concerns as well.

“The community needs to learn about what the community is feeling on all sides,” Cervelli said. “There were Trump supporters here tonight — we had the other side, the Clinton supporters, and everything in between. I’m really proud of our students.”

After students wrote on the notecards that they were targeted for their race or their status as undocumented, Cervelli said she will not discriminate in which students she supports, urging students to come forward with more instances — either personally or through more notecards — so she can better understand what experiences students are having.

“We will do everything we possibly can to support all our students,” Cervelli said. “All, all our students.”


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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole