Students tearfully told Penn President Amy Gutmann how they felt "fearful" and "terrified" following the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election.
Representatives from the Muslim Student Association, Latin@ Coalition, the Asian Student Pacific Coalition, UMOJA and Penn First — several visibly shaken and in tears — gave statements to a packed room of student leaders and administrators at a University Council meeting on Wednesday.
Many expressed fear and uncertainty about their future in a country that will soon be led by 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump — who launched his campaign by calling Mexicans "rapists," proposed a blanket ban on Muslim immigration and has repeatedly attacked members of minority groups.
One student representing PRISM, a student interfaith group, broke down crying while reading her statement, and Gutmann rushed to comfort her.
Students also asked Gutmann to show support by attending a solidarity march on College Green, but Gutmann said she was unable to attend due to a "Penn dinner" and would be there in spirit.
Gutmann opened the meeting by reading a statement addressing the negative nature of the election that culminated last night in the stunning victory for 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump:
"This Presidential campaign was one of the most bitter, divisive and hurtful in American history. Whoever won, millions of people were going to be terribly troubled by the results. The American people have now voted, and it is our duty to respect the outcome. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or citizenship, everyone needs to be heard and respected. I fervently believe that the diversity of America and its welcoming heart make this country great.
It is my hope that ideals that we hold dear at Penn — inclusion, civic engagement and constructive dialogue — will guide our nation's new administration, and that they will work hard to ensure opportunity, peace and prosperity for every person and every group that together form the diverse mosaic of the United States."
The statement did not specifically address Trump, continuing a pattern of silence from the Penn administration regarding perhaps its most famous alumnus. Ever since the flamboyant businessman announced his candidacy last June, Penn has studiously avoided making any kind of public statement — though Gutmann did indirectly criticize Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigration last January.
Penn students, meanwhile, have spoken out openly against Trump — thousands of students, parents and other community members penned an open letter last July denouncing the candidate. More recently, the student collective "We Are Watching" protested against Trump, calling him an "advocate of rape culture."
Penn's campus has reacted with shock to the news of Trump's victory, prompting some professors to cancel classes and postpone exams.