Hundreds of Amherst students gathered in Keefe Campus Center on the evening of Nov. 8 to watch election results, attend a discussion with the Amherst Political Union and listen to mini-talks by four faculty members. The atrium and resource centers were filled with energy and chatter as some 500 students moved in and out throughout the night to watch the updated results on TV. The large turnout and lively discussions that took place demonstrated how significant this election was for many students and the country, and how occupied students' minds were with various issues the candidates had put forward throughout the campaign.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Jonathan Obert, who is teaching “Introduction to American Politics” and “Violence and Politics” this semester, facilitated an open conversation about the meaningfulness of the election and encouraged students to think about politics in an engaged and active manner. 

“There is a big task for this generation,” Obert told the students in the room, “and that is to reconcile with the political polarization that divides urban and rural voters, and older and younger generations.”

Students and other attendees responded by sharing what this election means for them and what aspects of the president-elect they were both excited and uncertain about.

During another open conversation,  Manuela Picq, visiting associate professor of political science and Karl Loewenstein fellow, held an open conversation on topics relating to the U.S. political climate and her courses “Indigenous World Politics” and “Sexualities in International Relationships.”

Following those two conversations were talks by Associate Professor of American Studies Robert Hayashi and Associate Professor of Mathematics Tanya Leise.

Hayashi focused on what the election and political environment signify for Asian Americans, the fastest growing minority group in the United States. “There is growing consciousness and awareness among Asian Americans to enter the political sphere, to mobilize collectively,” Hayashi said as he read excerpts from literature to a room filled with attentive listeners.

“We have this fractured society,” Hayashi said, and the election has revealed differences in experiences and a failure to recognize some of these differences. “Regardless of who wins,” he added, “we are going to wake up tomorrow and realize the significance of these differences in ideas.” 

Leise, who teaches “Voting and Elections from a Mathematical Perspective,” began by outlining changes in U.S. voting rights over time. She also explored ideas for a new voting system.

“It was interesting to hear Professor Leise talk about how different state laws work to systematically lock certain groups out of the democratic process,” said one student in the room, Aditi Krishnamurthy ’18.