Finding togetherness amidst divisiveness

Not to put too fine a point on it, but can we all agree that 2016 has been a pretty terrible year?

If nothing else, the American presidential election alone would have been enough to give 2016 this status of being hugely disappointing. No matter which party you sided with during the election, it seems that everyone can agree on two things:

  1. That we are glad that the madness of what felt like a never-ending election season is over, and that
  2. This race (arguably more than anything else in recent history) has been incredibly divisive in a lot of truly heartbreaking ways.

However, even in the midst of all of the hatred and sadness that has come out of the race and then out of the election itself, one of the things that has given me great comfort is the William & Mary community.

I promise, I am not just saying this for the purposes of writing this post, and I won’t sugarcoat it for anyone either. While there have been instances of ignorance and unkindness on campus since the results of the election were announced, there has (in greater part, from what I have seen) also been a great outpouring of love.

I have been lucky to have had some amazing professors during my time here, and I have been able to feel that in a new way since Tuesday night (or really, early Wednesday morning I suppose). The majority of my professors have contacted my classes and given us encouragement both in words and actions. They have been kind, understanding, and gracious, knowing how difficult this experience has been for much of the campus community. Professors that I have had in past semesters have also reached out to students, and yesterday President Reveley emailed the students and faculty, providing us with words of wisdom and optimism, even in the midst of what is otherwise an extraordinarily dismal week.

Even more amazing has been the support of the student body. William & Mary students (again, I would argue, based on what I have seen and experienced) are largely reliable in providing support and love in difficult times, whether those times are during exams or during even more dramatic periods. More than ever though, there has recently been such a vocalization of that love – for everyone. I have been incredibly impressed by how fair and decent so many of my peers have been with each other, encouraging other students to not take anyone at face value (or perhaps “vote value”?) and to instead open up conversations and engage with our differences in order to promote understanding. In a way, this is perhaps the most characteristically “William & Mary” thing to do: to use this experience as a means of learning and growing instead of as an excuse to merely direct latent personal frustrations at something that is so readily available.

Even in difficult times, my love for this school continues to grow, thanks in large part to the people comprising it. I am grateful for the professors, administrators, classmates, friends, and other staff on campus who make this community such a tight-knit one. This school is not perfect, but the resilience of the people here are what will continue to help it grow and strengthen as we see what the future holds.

-Megan Embrey ’17

Categories: Campus Life, Student Blogs

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