Lutes gather after divisive presidential election

ERIN BAKER; Online Copy Editor; bakeree@plu.edu

Pacific Lutheran University community members congregated in Red Square Wednesday, Nov. 9 to discuss the recent presidential election. President Krise invited students, staff and faculty to join in dialogue and heal the “divisions in our country.”

More than 100 people gathered Wednesday evening to listen to President Krise deliver a message regarding the fear and shock students have been feeling after the presidential election. After protests erupted across the nation and at PLU Tuesday night, Krise said he felt there needed to be a community-wide discussion emphasizing dialogue and listening.

(Ordered left to right) Pastor John Rosenberg, PLU President Thomas Krise and wife Patty Krise
(Ordered left to right) Pastor John Rosenberg, PLU President Thomas Krise and wife Patty Krise look on with the crowd.

“I wasn’t here for [the protests], but it sounded like there was some rancor that was unhealthy,” Krise said. “Doing what we did just now — gathering, having the opportunity to discuss things, emphasizing the importance of civility and empathy, trying hard to understand the other side — is very important.”

Students said the event created a space to join in solidarity and show that students can find support from others on campus.

“It’s a really important time for all of us,” senior Kelsey Monahan said. “It’s really nice to see people out here together, and it gives me a lot of hope for people to be out here too.”

First-year Isaiah Huey voiced his distaste for the hate surrounding the election.

“I’m not a fan of all the hatred and stuff that’s going around,”  he said. “As someone who is very loving, or I try to be, it hurts. ”

Faculty members showed solidarity with their students’ concerns and provided resources for emotional support.

“I’ve been talking to students all day,” Associate Professor of English Solveig Robinson said. “There’s been a lot of tears and a lot of upset. Having someplace to say there are things you can do, even though you feel like you’re falling off a cliff, I think is helpful.”

During the event, PLU community members voiced their fears for the future.

Chelesie Taresh Ciscell said she attended the event because her partner is a PLU faculty member and because it was valuable to the community.

“Any groups coming together on the wake of what happened yesterday is important,” Ciscell said. “Community is important right now.”

Michael Farnum, the director of military outreach at PLU, said he is focused on bringing people together and helping students from both sides of the aisle to engage in meaningful conversations.

“My student veterans are both Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “I want to build bridges, not burn them.”

President Krise said a space for community, dialogue and listening is vital to creating a safe space for all PLU community members.

“If we’re not listening, really listening, we’ll never understand what the problem is and we’ll never be able to solve it,” he said. 🅼

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