College heads condemn Trump victory

College principals and influential university voices react to the United States' shock election result

Speaking exclusively to Cherwell, seven heads of Oxford colleges and a range of other prominent university voices have responded candidly to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in Tuesday’s US election. Leaders of Brasenose, Hertford, LMH, Magdalen, Mansfi eld, St Anne’s and Wadham have variously described Trump as a “violent sexual predator”, “a bully, a braggart and a con-man” and a “bluecollar billionaire”, while OUSU VP Orla White expressed concern that Trump’s victory “may further legitimise racism and sexism”.

Trump’s victory this week came as a surprise to both pollsters and many students, with one student on election night describing “ a huge shock” and “an extremely disappointing night”.

Yesterday, speaking to Cherwell, LMH Principal and former Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger said, “I think it was one of the most unedifying elections of recent times, and to young voters it must have seemed that there was a campaign bereft of any inspiring vision of the future.

“It was particularly dismaying that there was no mention of climate change on either side. Once the result was known, you’re left wondering about Trump policies in so many areas, especially in foreign policy. It’s very diffi cult to work out what a world under Trump will look like. There are many reasons to be afraid.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Principal of Mansfield College, said, “I am numb with shock at the outcome of the US election. Donald Trump is everything your parents brought you up not to be – everything I believe our students abhor. He is a bully, a braggard, a con man, a racist and a man who abuses and denigrates women.

“As a human rights lawyer, I am alarmed at what he has said about wanting to re introduce waterboarding and expand torture, keep Guantanamo open and add to the numbers there, deny women’s reproductive freedom and right to abortion, stack the Supreme Court with right wing judges, illtreat immigrants, bar Muslims from America; the list is long and shocking and hard to exhaust.”

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Robert Chard, Acting Principal of St Anne’s, told Cherwell, “A confirmed climate change skeptic in the White House could have disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. “We will all be watching closely to see what happens to higher education policy in the USA. I know nothing of what Trump has in mind for this area, but given his overall predilections I am not optimistic.”

Lord Macdonald, Warden of Wadham, said, “It is obviously alarming that the American people have elected as President a man with a consistent record as a violent sexual predator, who has deliberately proclaimed a racist immigration policy, and used a public platform to mock disabled people”.

Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College and journalist, said that Trump’s election “signals the end of the international trade and security framework that has worked so well since 1945, heralding a new era of protection, nationalism and forms of inter-state conflict. Global efforts to contain climate change will be stone dead.”

Magdalen President David Clary said “People should not forget that the American Election was an extremely close race”, while Brasenose Principal John Bowers said, “I think the result surprising, and hope it does not excite further divisions in the US”.

A number of student societies have organised events based on the result. The Oxford Forum’s event ‘Democracy in Crisis?’ is scheduled for Saturday of Fifth Week, while The Neave Society is hosting the debate ‘This House Believes Hillary Clinton is the reason Donald Trump won the US election’.

In an online statement, the Oxford Students Women’s Equality Party said, “The election of Trump is a dark day for women across the US. In an election where an overwhelming majority of African-American and Hispanic women did not vote for their country’s president, where the elected candidate has a track record of defending and trivialising sexual assault and well as fabricating explicit lies about processes of abortion and basic female rights, there is no cause for celebration at the announcement of the result. Trump’s ascent to power is also a dark moment for women who have sought to shatter and break the glass ceiling. Clinton was imperfect, flawed, and fundamentally not a saint – but to expect her to be anything but the above three (or, to expect any political candidate) would be a foolish belief or self-deception and illusionary anti-realism”.