Election Day: Students Gather at the White House

MATTHEW TRUNKO/THE HOYA Hundreds gathered at the White House after Donald Trump was named the 2016 president-elect.

MATTHEW TRUNKO/THE HOYA
Hundreds gathered at the White House after Donald Trump was named the 2016 president-elect.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton on Election Day resulted in Georgetown University students congregating early Wednesday morning in front of the White House.

Georgetown students made their way down to the White House as early as 12 a.m., before it was clear Trump would win, joining over 300 others who were protesting, celebrating and observing. Students from The George Washington University, American University and Catholic University all gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue as well.

Daniel O’Sullivan (MSB ’20) said he came to the White House in an attempt to gauge how the American people would react to the prospect of a Trump presidency.

“Mostly I wanted to see history. I wanted to be down here, I wanted to see what the mood of the country was,” O’Sullivan said. “I’ve seen people really being vicious towards each other, like having to hold each other back, and just shouting matches.”

Maggie Cirrulo (COL ’17) also travelled to the White House, but instead of observing, she said she went to celebrate.

“Why we are here tonight is we are celebrating democracy and we are celebrating the Republican Party,” Cirrulo said. “We are very excited about tonight. People think that young people don’t vote for Trump, well we did.”

As Trump’s victory became increasingly more apparent, protests grew from peaceful demonstrations to emotionally charged confrontations.

At 1:45 a.m., a protester from the nonpartisan youth group United We Dream, displaying a large “Donald Trump is a Racist” banner, began shouting through a megaphone.

“Stop targeting the undocumented community. Stop targeting my black brothers and sisters. Stop targeting my Muslim brothers and sisters. Stop targeting the LGBT community,” the protester said.

Some students remained hopeful for a Clinton comeback, while others celebrated Trump’s victory even as they watched Clinton’s Campaign Chairman John Podesta take the stage just after 2 a.m. to assure Clinton supporters in New York that the former secretary of state would not be making a speech until the next day.

“They’re still counting votes. Every vote should count. Several states are too close to call. So we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight,” Podesta said.

Around half an hour later, CNN reported Clinton had called Trump to concede. Around 3 a.m., Trump took the stage at his campaign headquarters in New York to thank his supporters and highlighted his goals for the coming months.

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump said. “It’s time for us to come together as one united people.”

Clinton made her concession speech at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, thanking her supporters, campaign team and her family while acknowledging that the result was not one she wanted.

“I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks — sometimes really painful ones,” she said. “This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Clinton also encouraged her supporters to respect the results of the election and Trump’s victory.

“I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans,” Clinton said. “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

As many swing states, including Florida., North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, among others, were called as victories for Trump, students watched on campus in the Healey Family Student Center at an event hosted by Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.

Clinton supporter Millie Spencer (SFS ’20), who had been watching the returns in HFSC, said she became too emotional to wait for the final results.

“I’m going to bed. I’ve cried enough and been frustrated enough for like hours and the only thing that’s left to do is get fired up about the fact that we go to a school that cares about politics and social justice,” Spencer said.

GU Politics brought in over six chaplains from different faiths to speak to students about any concerns or questions they may have had regarding the election.

Protestant Chaplain Rev. Brandon Harris recognized the night as emotional, saying the support offered was nonpartisan.

“We are here to provide spiritual resources and support for students across political affiliations as a way to provide counseling, somebody to talk to and just a listening ear,” Harris said. “There are a lot of emotions in this election, so we will listen to everyone.”

The Georgetown Running Club, which had planned to lead a run to the White House for students, canceled the event around 12:25 a.m. According to the group’s Facebook post in the event page, the election returns ran later than it originally expected.

“No matter the result tonight, the timing has been much later for a run than we originally planned and we think it best to cancel a formal run tonight following the speeches. Thanks so much to everyone who was planning to come and we apologize for how the timing worked out,” the post reads.

Though Olivia Bisel (SFS ’18), who stayed on campus to watch the final returns, said she saw an urgent need for unity in the U.S. following Trump’s victory.

“Now, more than ever, is a time when we need to look beyond ourselves and see what we can give back to our country. We cannot turn our backs on the U.S.,” Bisel said. “This is the crucial moment when we can either look past this and devote all our energy to making our country the best it can be or rejecting all greatness it already has.”

Hoya Staff Writers Ian Scoville, Aly Pachter, Christian Paz, William Zhu, Matthew Trunko, Jeff Cirillo and Hannah Urtz contributed reporting. 

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