The country, the world and the Mills community have been shaken to their cores in the wake of the 2016 election. One of the numerous issues that has bubbled to the surface is the effect education or a lack thereof can have on hugely important political outcomes. While the nation as a whole is having a full on existential crisis, educators are specifically facing difficulty coming to terms with last week’s election.
The Pew Research Center highlights the complicated nature of the presidential election’s outcome. According to their data, Trump unsurprisingly won 67 percent of the vote among white voters without a college degree. But what’s troubling and surprising is the fact that he also exceeded Hillary Clinton’s support among college educated white voters, earning 49 percent of their votes versus Clinton’s 45 percent. Despite our closely held beliefs about the value of a college education, it would appear that it’s less effective in dampening racist ideologies than we had expected. It is a slap in the face to progressive educators, who have devoted their work to preventing something like this from happening.
Despite this, our faculty at Mills have not given up. While processing their own reactions and anxieties surrounding the election, they have remained at our sides, offering whatever support they can and making sure every student’s needs are met. Nobody knows exactly what to say or do to reconcile being on the brink of a Trump presidency, and there is little consolation to be offered. In a country full of hateful division, however, our faculty have been a source of unity and support that is more valuable now than ever. Their work, especially now, is the embodiment of love, dedication and passion at their highest, most virtuous forms.
Our faculty is one of our most beloved aspects of the Mills community. They go above and beyond the call of duty, not just educating us, but empowering, validating and supporting us. They’ve awakened interests in things we never thought we’d be interested in and exposed us to things that have hugely expanded our world views. This personalized attention is highly unique to Mills, having played a large role in attracting and retaining students of The Campanil staff. Rather than going through the motions and “getting through” our classes here, as is the norm at many other colleges, we benefit from having professors who care about us, our work and success. With their guidance, we have some chance of not just being prepared for the messy, complicated world we live in, but being prepared to make it better.
We want our faculty to know how cherished they and their work are. It goes beyond being brilliant and well-respected thinkers in the academic world. Their academic brilliance is not confined to the academic world, and does not exist in a vacuum. They do not just think; they act and they inspire us to do the same. This convergence of intellect and practice is the most important and valuable formula for creating the world we want to live in. Despite how grim things seem, our professors have demonstrated that this is the only way to move forward, and the lesson has not been lost on us.