The response to the shock has been to turn campuses into kindergarten. The University of Michigan Law School announced a ”post-election self-care” event with “food and play,” including “coloring sheets, play dough [sic], positive card-making, Legos and bubbles with your fellow law students.” (Embarrassed by the attention, UM Law scrubbed the announcement from its website, perhaps concerned that people would wonder if its graduates would require Legos and bubbles in the event of stressful litigation.)
I don’t know what they did in Knoxville, but this is the message we got in Chattanooga (both of us teach at the University of Tennessee):
The Office of the Dean of Students recognizes that individuals on all sides may be trying to process and understand this election season. A lot of anticipation has been building up for many of us over the past few months. Many of us may be experiencing a range of emotions, both positive and negative, leaving us feeling drained. While we do not have the answers or possibly even the right words, we want each member of our community to take time to acknowledge what they may be feeling and remember the importance of self-care. For each person this may look different–some need to unplug from media, engage in physical activity, eat a balanced meal, or surround themselves with a community of support.
This was followed by a long list of campus activities, most of which were already on the schedule.
I teach civil engineering. Engineers in general and civil engineers in particular are in an interesting place because, when the government spends money on infrastructure, civil engineers benefit. So our relationship with the state is a little different. OTOH, that effort makes society more productive and raises living standards.
One of my students was expressing a little disquiet about the results of the election. My response: if Trump comes through with his promises to improve infrastructure, we in the civil engineering community will be busy and paid. That thought lightened the discussion considerably.
Trump has told us that, in his world travels, he has discovered that many countries have infrastructure (airports, rail, roads, etc.) that make us look like a third world country. Unfortunately we live in a place that is so full of itself that pointing that out is, by itself, a non-starter. Beyond that, infrastructure improvements have been trapped in a bipartisan political limbo for many years; Obama’s stimulus never addressed this issue.
Trump promises to “make America great again.” You can’t make the country great only by improving infrastructure, but the country won’t be great without it. We’ve been burned before on this issue; show us the money and commitment, Donald Trump, and things will move a long way forward.