Witnesses to history: Students share their post-election stress

Hear how ASU students tuned into election night in 2020 and managed their stress

Living through historical events has become all too common for Gen Z. Hear first-hand about how students were feeling this election night as reporters Stefano Contreras and Morgan Fischer went floor to floor at ASU's Taylor Place.


STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Unprecedented, uncertainty, uneasiness, fear, anxiety, impatience. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

These are just a couple of the words floating around tonight at Taylor place an ASU residence hall located at the helm of downtown Phoenix. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

I'm Stefano Contreras.

MORGAN FISCHER:

I'm Morgan Fischer. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And tonight, we're speaking to real students to hear their thoughts, hopes and fears surrounding the 2020 presidential election.

MORGAN FISCHER:

Amidst the election stress and chaos, students at Taylor Place are taking to their floors' common areas to keep up with the rapidly changing pace of this election cycle. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

We first sit down with Bella Gonzalez — a medical studies major in downtown Phoenix — to hear how she's feeling about tonight's election.

So, Bella, how are you feeling tonight? 

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

Um, good, nervous. But I mean, what happens happens. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Do you want to expand on your nerves for tonight? Why are you feeling that specifically?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

I think just 2020 has kind of been chaotic in general. And I think that no matter who wins tonight, or, whenever we find out the results, it might end bad either way. The communities can flare up with anger, and I just don't want any violence happening. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And how do you feel about that potential for flare-ups or for violence?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

It scares me, because no matter what side you're on or who you vote for, I think no one should get hurt. No one should be violated. No community should be damaged or anything like that. So, I just want peace. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, did you vote in this election?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

I did not. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

You did not? And why was that?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

Honestly, I was just caught up in school. I'm not from here, so I didn't really know the process because I just turned 18. And I knew that I had to like, mail in my ballot, I guess? And I guess I just waited too long.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, for that process, how do you feel that could have been made more clear? 

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

I feel like, for me, it was more because I'm out of state and I've never done it before. I feel like if I was in California where I'm from and I had like my mom or my dad take me to go do it with them, or someone to show me first handedly like, "Oh, this is how you do it," or fill out the ballot with me or go to a polling station or something. It probably would have been better. 

Cause you see everyone on social media telling you to vote and where the polling stations are, but I didn't know how to do that out of state because I've never done it before in the first place. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And do you feel ASU could have provided more assistance to its out-of-state students or direction on how to vote?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

I think so. I mean, if someone would have reached out to me, like more clear, like, "Hey, I know you're out of state and you're a freshman, so you've probably never voted before. Maybe voted once." Like, if there was a little bit more direction, I would've definitely done it, but it was just more confusion on my part. I think that held me back. It's not that I didn't want to, I just didn't really know how. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so why did you tune in to watch tonight? 

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

I think kind of like the whole world is watching. I mean, I don't discriminate anyone based on their views, but I do have a lot of friends voting for Biden and a lot voting for Trump, and I just kind of want to see what happens, to prepare myself either way.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And what are you hoping for in terms of the results?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

Um, that's a tough one. I can't really say because I'm just someone who ... I mean, I don't really like either. I mean, I'm pushing towards one, but I just, I can't really say. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Did you want to expand a little bit on your feelings of, you know, not really liking either candidate?

ISABELLA GONZALEZ:

Well, the current president is obviously not the best person in the world. And, there's a lot of reasons why I don't like him and don't want him to be the president for the next four years. But there are some things about Biden that I don't really like either, but there are some things I do like about him and respect. So, it's just kind of like an even call for me. It's, it's hard, especially because half my family is on the Trump side and then half of it's on the Biden side, so it's just like I'm just in the middle. I don't know what to do, I don't know really what to think, but I have influence on both. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

Next, we talk to student Payton Gormley.

So, Payton, tell me about yourself!

PAYTON GORMLEY:

I'm from LA, I'm a sports science major. I'm a freshman here at ASU. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

Awesome! So, how are you feeling tonight? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Nervous, I guess. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, tell me a little bit about you feeling nervous.

PAYTON GORMLEY:

I'm just unsure if after tonight I'll be able to own my own body, you know? Cause after tonight, who knows what will happen tomorrow.

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, could you talk a little bit about that? Are you talking about reproductive rights? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Yeah I mean just overall, all-around, because I know if Democrats aren't able to get ahold of the Senate that they won't be able to expand the Supreme Court, and it's looking like the Supreme Court is trying to take away all rights for women, basically, as far as reproductive goes.

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, did you vote in this election? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Uh, yeah. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, you mentioned you're from L.A., so did you vote in California?

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Yeah, in L.A., yeah. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So how did that work? Did you vote through mail or in-person? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Yeah, my mom sent me the ballot and I sent it back, and then she dropped it off.

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, who did you vote for? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

I voted for Biden.

MORGAN FISCHER:

And why? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Just because I know that he at least is pro-choice. That's one of the biggest things for me. And because I'm a fan of raising taxes for the wealthy, I think they don't pay enough, and they should be paying more. And, even what they're supposed to pay, a lot of them don't, and I think he'll be harder on them to make sure that they aren't doing it. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So why did you decide to watch the election results tonight?

PAYTON GORMLEY:

So, I took AP Gov last year, and so my teacher was really adamant about us just being aware of what's happening politically and just paying attention to what's happening on the news, and so I just wanted to do it for her. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

Awesome! So, you mention AP Gov, learning this, always being involved and always knowing what's going on. So why do you believe that's important? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

Because it affects literally everything. Like, people don't usually know how much it affects literally everything, but it really does. I mean it determines how our healthcare is, it determines if we have good roads, if things are well kept, how bad the homeless population is. Basically, just everything is determined by politics and it should be involved in every aspect of our lives.

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, do you have any predictions for the night? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

I mean I think my only prediction for the night is that it won't be over. It's going to be going on for days. Because, especially with all the mail in ballots, it's going to take a lot more time to make sure all those are counted, and I highly doubt it will be over tonight.

MORGAN FISCHER:

So how does it make you feel that the election probably won't be decided tonight? 

PAYTON GORMLEY:

It makes me feel a little bit better, because at least if it's not decided tonight, that means they're putting more time to make sure that what happens after tonight is what really should have happened, that there isn't gonna be any fraudulent voting.

MORGAN FISCHER:

Awesome. So, has anything happened tonight that has surprised you?

PAYTON GORMLEY:

I think just how close Texas has been and Florida, that those have been pretty close races and I wasn't really expecting Texas to get as close as it is. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Next, we speak with nursing student Nick Sgrignoli.

So, Nick, how are you feeling tonight? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

Uh, pretty terrible actually. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah? Tell me about it.

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I don't agree with a two party system. I think it's disgusting. I think people that advocate for either party are political puppets [unintelligible].

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And tell me more about your sentiments towards the two party system. What shapes those, how have those impacted your civic participation, etc.? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I think a lot of it's just fear. That they just use fear. Democrats will tell you that the Republicans are unconstitutional, and they shoot everyone. The Republicans will tell the other Republicans that the Democrats are gonna shut down the country. People just get scared and they act on impulse. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, did those sentiments affect your voting this season? Did you vote in this election?

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I did. I'm a libertarian, so I voted for Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Gotcha. And why did you vote for Jo Jorgensen?

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I just feel like she is the perfect middle ground. I love her economic policies and I love her social policies. I feel like she's right in the middle. She sees past the two-party bias. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so why did you decide to watch tonight? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I don't know, I guess just to ... I'm nosy. I still want to see the outcome, it's still going to be my president, so I still wanna know what's going on. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah, absolutely. And so, what are you hoping for in terms of this election? Results? Changes societally, socially, etc.? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

Well, unfortunately I don't believe that Jo Jorgensen will win. I don't know. I think either/or, I think if Trump wins, we're going to have extreme rioting and property damage. If Joe Biden wins, I don't think there'll be as much property damage, but I think that there'll be an increase in hate crimes, supremacy groups, hate speech, harassment. So, I think either way it's, it's going to be really tough. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, what are your predictions for the night? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I think Trump will definitely be ahead because more Republicans are very anti-mail-in ballot, and then I believe once those mail-in ballots are counted, maybe Joe could pull through, I don't know.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Gotcha. 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I think it's a real toss up this time. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Is there anything else I didn't ask? Things about your hopes, your fears that you'd like to expand upon? 

NICHOLAS SGRIGNOLI:

I would just say to everybody who chose the lesser of two evils, you still chose evil, so congratulations on that. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

We then spoke with medical studies student Kaya Thompson. 

So, how are you feeling today? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I'm feeling nervous, but overall pretty good. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

Why are you feeling nervous tonight? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

Just because a lot of the numbers are like really close. Like if you look county-to-county, it's like 3-4% apart. So, it's nerve wracking. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, did you vote in this election? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I did. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

Who did you vote for?

KAYA THOMPSON:

I voted for Biden. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, why did you decide to vote, and then why did you decide to vote for Biden as well?

KAYA THOMPSON:

I decided to vote because, personally, I'm somebody who gets involved in the community. I've spent my four years of high school before I could vote getting involved by like phone banking and volunteering, so it's really important for me to be involved and it's something that I think is like a privilege to be able to vote because a lot of people don't get to, and it's important. 

And then I voted for Biden because I'm from California, so a lot of my views are very liberal, but also, I believe he actually has a plan, and to me that's important. And I like to fact check. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So why did you decide to watch the election tonight? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

Because to me it's really important, and it's going to decide who's going to be making the calls these next four years, and I think that's really important to pay attention to, and even not just with the presidential election, but also a lot of senators are being voted for tonight and I think that's also important for the future. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Next, we sit down with sports science and performance programming major Olivia Shippy.

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Hi, I'm Olivia Shippy, I'm a major in sports science and performance programming, and I'm a freshman. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

So, Olivia, how are you feeling tonight? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

I feel great. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Feel great, yeah? Any thoughts, anxieties, nerves?

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Yeah. I don't really care who- 

It doesn't matter who wins, I just feel like there's going to be riots everywhere. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Yeah.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Alright, so did you vote for this election? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

I did.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah? And why did you vote specifically in the selection? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

OK two reasons: I really don't want to see the opposer win and it's the biggest election, so like, I can't understand a reason why someone wouldn't want to vote and be a part of that. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Right, yeah, yeah. And so, who did you vote for and why, if you're comfortable telling us? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Oh gosh, okay. Um, I'm just going to say it. I voted for Biden because I don't stand for most of Trump's views. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

So, what are you hoping for in terms of results?

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Other than the win, I'm hoping that Biden, because I chose him, I hope he doesn't turn the economy around because the economy's been so good with Trump. I just hope he does what he stands for. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

I mean, it's still very early on in the night, but have you seen anything early that's kind of surprised you or anything like that? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

No, just scrolling through TikTok, you can see all the cities boarded up, including Arizona. We have one of them. It's not really like a viral video, but it's something. So yeah, that's all I've seen so far. 

MORGAN FISCHER:

How does it make you feel to see Arizona boarded up like that? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Well, it was specifically in Phoenix — downtown Phoenix. So, it's kind of scary, but I know I'm in a safe space, so that's good.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Finally, we speak with medical studies major and CA Danielle Du.

DANIELLE DU:

Alrighty. Hi, I'm Danielle Du, I am a third-year pre-med student. I am going to be going into optometry. I'm also a community assistant on the Downtown campus. I'm also an I.A. for BIO 100, so pretty involved, all that stuff.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

So, Danielle, how are you feeling tonight? 

DANIELLE DU:

Kind of anxious, but also kind of numb to it by now. I've been anxious for the past two weeks!

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah! Tell me more about that. Where are those feelings of anxiety coming from? 

DANIELLE DU:

It's just the uncertainty of where we're going next. Obviously, it's not going to be like an earth-shattering change after whatever happens tonight, but just the knowledge that there is going to be change in the future that potentially could have impacts for longer than we expect. 

I feel like a lot of people treat this sort of thing as like, "Well, the presidency is only gonna be this many years," but they don't realize that decisions made by those people in power can last far beyond their time in office. So, that's kind of where that stands. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, did you vote in this election then? 

DANIELLE DU:

I did.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Yeah? And if you don't mind me asking, who did you vote for and why?

DANIELLE DU:

Biden and Harris. Why? Let's see. It's absurd to say this almost, but it just came down to which candidate did I realistically see, 1. doing the job that they're supposed to be doing, 2. not violating human rights. 

It's such a baseline statement. It's ridiculous that I have to say that. But, I myself as part of minority communities, like we feel genuinely endangered by quite a few things that are happening, and that kind of sense of danger, honestly, it's kind of, I don't know. It feels absurd to be saying like, the fact that we have to feel on the defense and feel that we're voting not for the sake of certain policies necessarily, but rather for survival. So, there's that.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And those sentiments of danger, how have those affected you throughout the past four years? 

DANIELLE DU:

Oh, for the past four years? I will say, I do remember really clearly when the 2016 election happened, and it felt like the sky was gonna fall. And it was worse initially when everyone didn't know what to expect, that was the worst part of it in the beginning when nobody knew how was this [unintelligible] gonna handle being in it. Everything felt very unstable. And I think we kind of were forced to adapt to that as time progressed. 

So, I would say maybe the [unintelligible] anxiety and that sense of danger did ease up as time goes on, but obviously policy changes happen, events happen, and I think our adaptation level was kind of pushed off by that. I see that our worst fears were kind of coming true or at least were hinted at coming true. It's weird. It's very abstract. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so why did you decide to watch the election tonight? 

DANIELLE DU:

I will say partially I did not initially intend to watch it at all, because I know a lot of states are still counting the ballots. Tonight is not the decisive point of victory or loss, whatever. I honestly came out kind of to monitor the space and make sure people are doing OK, and that no one was like, I don't know. Just making sure. I am biased though, because I am a CA [unintelligible]. So that was part of it. And then a part of it was just, I can't bear not knowing either, so I did want to take a look and see what was happening even with the understanding that this is not decisive, this is a process.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

Right. Absolutely, yeah. And so, what are you hoping in terms of results tonight? 

DANIELLE DU:

I am hoping for a Democratic win, but I don’t know. It's hard to say what I think I believe, because I almost don't want to say that I hope X will happen, because I don't want to jinx it, I guess, to put it roughly, but then by saying I hope to feel this, I hope for a certain outcome and then I don't have that outcome, how am I going to cope with that? So, it's hard to say anything. I feel like that's what it comes down to.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And your point of coping, is that something that you felt that you had to develop in consequence the last four years? 

DANIELLE DU:

Right, I do think, yeah if the election had turned out differently in 2016, I suspect there ... like obviously no candidate was going to be perfect, and certain policy changes that would probably [unintelligible] were probably going to happen anyway, but I don't think they would have happened to this extent. So, to a degree, probably the vast majority of the [unintelligible] had to put up in regard to political events and stuff.

STEFANO CONTRERAS:

And so, obviously it's still very early on, but has anything that has happened tonight surprised you so far?

DANIELLE DU:

Texas has been tilting. It's interesting. I know just from social media and media in general, they're hoping to tip Texas toward blue, and it's been interesting to watch it kind of wobble. So far though, when I watched the 10 minutes that I watched, most states seemed to be following the general trend that I expected. But those battleground states ... it's been interesting to watch them tilt back and forth. I don't know, it's hard to call anything, like you said.

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Is there anything else I should know? How you're feeling, what you hope? 

DANIELLE DU:

I just hope that everyone comes out of this sane. I feel like, regardless of what happens, there's going to be civil unrest and no matter what result we get, there are gonna be people who are not, who feel deeply violated in some way. And I don't know, my main hope is that it doesn't become as divisive as people are projecting she will be. There's going to be some blowups that's unavoidable. I just. Because things that happen that has come from as far beyond this elections that especially given everything that's already happening, like, how much worse can it get? I'm guessing [unintelligible] that can be contained.

MORGAN FISCHER:  

It's about halfway through the night, as there is no clear end in sight for election results. We go back and check in with some students to see how they're holding up. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

So, Olivia, it's been a couple of hours. How are you feeling? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Pretty good. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Pretty good? All right. Well, like what has you feeling good, what other sort of things are running through your mind?

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Okay. So, so far, Biden won California. So that was a really big impact. At first, Trump had the population votes, but it finally increased within the last five minutes to Biden having the increase. And obviously Biden's winning with the electoral college votes. So that's pretty good. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

And does that make you feel hopeful?

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Yeah. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

So, in comparing your mindset from a couple of hours ago, has it shifted, has it stayed the same? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Um, I would say it's probably stayed the same, but also shifted a little bit to being more positive. I've seen a lot of people like Snapchat and stuff say they were more, much more happy with the results so far and also like the military and another voting process hasn't come in yet. So, there's a lot to say that they could go by Biden's way. But also, just was the population vote, it's also like a big increase

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Earlier in our interview, you expressed fears of unrest. Are those fears still on your mind? 

OLIVIA SHIPPY:

Not so much anymore, just because I know that younger kids can be the ones who are like more destructive, but now with it looking like Trump's going to lose, it seems like it, even if those supporters are gonna riot, it won't be as bad.

MORGAN FISCHER: 

So how are you feeling since we last checked in with you? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

Still nervous, pretty nervous because, I mean, a lot of people were like, Oh, it's not going to be a close race, you know, like it's going to be different. This year is different, but it's definitely like a really close race. And like, just because something happens tonight, doesn't mean it's not going to change within a week.

So I'm very nervous. 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

So, you mentioned that like, things may change over the next week. What are your thoughts on, like this like prolonged election kind of? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I think it's like more stressful for everyone just because like, you don't know what's going to happen. Like everything has changed and stuff could happen.

Like it could be like, Oh, this election was rigged because it was me, and now it's not me, these votes don't matter, these votes shouldn't count — which, I think every vote counts, but there's going to be people who are going to say it was rigged, these votes shouldn't count or somebody did something and this was on purpose.

MORGAN FISCHER: So how do you feel that like, people can constantly just like make those sort of remarks that could constantly like change how this election looks. Does that make sense? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I mean, people have freedom of speech, so they're allowed to make whatever remarks they want to, and they can say what they want, but I definitely think it's down to like every person to choose, to believe what they hear and choose to not believe certain things that they hear and it all just comes with research. And I think that every vote that was casted should be counted because it was a vote. Somebody filled out that ballot, somebody took their time out of their day to mail it. And so, I do think that no matter which way it goes, you know, it's, ultimately was what the majority of the people decided and we should just accept that and, you know, and whatever happens the next four years happens because the majority of the people in America chose that. 

I think that it should just be like, I don’t know, like people should be able to like come together in hand and still be friends and there shouldn't be this huge divide, like, "Oh, you did that, you're a horrible person for that." Because like, I mean, the person shows that because that's what they agreed with the most. 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

So, you are still watching the election and have you heard anything more recently that has kind of been like surprising or different?

KAYA THOMPSON:

I don't really think so. Like everything's pretty much stayed the same. Everything's pretty much just like, Oh, it's too early to call it or it's too close. So, nothing's really changed. It's like states are being projected, but no one really knows for like a whole week. Like it's going to be like a projected winner, but that doesn't mean it's definite. 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

So, how does it feel to have this like projected winner? Like, is that something that makes you like calmer or is that almost more scary? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I think it's more scary and it's odd because like I was saying, people are going to be like, Oh, "it's rigged," you know, this is what everyone was saying like, "This is the projected winner, this is who should have won, and now you're saying it's this person who won, it's rigged." 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

Yeah, that's an interesting — is there anything else that I may have missed that you would like to talk about tonight? 

KAYA THOMPSON:

I mean like, this is just a prediction. Things are going to change with them weeks and months and I know like everybody's been talking about like civil unrest and everything, and I just think in the end, it's important that like, everyone just comes together and just accepts what happened, because like, I think that's important.

Like, even if you don't agree with it, to understand and accept something and just respect it, and know that just because it happened doesn't mean it's always set in stone, because every four years there's a new election. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

So then, Danielle, it's been a couple of hours.

DANIELLE DU:

It has. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

How are you feeling as of right now?

DANIELLE DU:

A little bit better. I don't know. It was, it was very interesting to see that Arizona's swinging blue. And I was like, Oh that's a new one. And I haven't, to be honest, I have chosen to kind of take a step back and tell myself, like a lot of these places are reporting what, like 70% or less so a lot of things are still undecided.

There's a lot of counting still going on. So, I was like telling myself, for my own mental health, I should probably like take a step back and not like every two minutes, like refresh, refresh.

It was pretty hopeful though. I don’t know. I think because people around me were talking about the Arizona lead, that got to me and so I'm feeling better about it, but obviously everything's still up in the air and I think the electoral vote has shifted toward Biden. So that was interesting as well. I think that for me was more hopeful than the Arizona lead, because I know, obviously right now it's like, we know what happened in 2016 with the electoral college. So, that for me did make me feel better. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Right. Yeah. And so, you're a CA. So, how has it been checking in with your residents? Uh, what's the general, I don’t know, mindset out there right now. Are you sensing uncertainty? Are you sensing calm?

DANIELLE DU:

I will say it's kind of hard to get a gauge right now, just because — maybe it's just our floor, I'm not sure. We're kind of quiet. I don't know. 

Like for my floor personally, I feel like residents only really come to me when there's like a real crisis on hand and no one has come to me. So, I feel like so far, it's been all right. 

I think being in the common spaces, I've watched, I've seen a lot of other residents, like, you know, looking at the TVs and like being like in tune with what's going on, but it doesn't seem to be as anxious as I was expecting or that some of us have been fearing because, like weeks before the election was coming up, our supervisors sat us down and were like, they were like, you guys have to be prepared for the election because we don't know what's going to happen. We didn't know if there was gonna be like unrest in the dorms, if there was gonna be unrest in the city in general.

Um, so we had been bracing ourselves for a while and we had been trying to like prepare ourselves for anything that would have happened. But to be honest, it has been good so far. I don't want to curse it by saying that, but generally what I've been seeing, people are doing pretty well. Everyone's been kind of stable and knowing when to kind of step back and like not check their feeds all the time and, yeah.

People, I think people are handling it all right. So far. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Right. And so, this uncertainty coupled with the responsibility as a CA, how does that affect you personally? How are you dealing with those factors? 

DANIELLE DU:

I will say because of the way things have been shaping up this year — this whole semester as a CA has just been full of uncertainty, like when we came into training.

So, we move in about a month and a half before you guys do. And even when we moved in, I was half convinced that they would just send us back after like two weeks without even the residents coming in, or maybe they would just send us back a couple of days after residents had moved in, it was hard to tell because that sense of uncertainty had just, starting from day zero, it was there.

So, obviously, the election added a whole other level to it, but because it was already there, I think I was able to adapt to it more because I had been adapting to this anxiety since summer. So, it was just kind of the next step in the process where it wasn't like a whole new process that I had to learn. So, yeah. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

And so, reflecting on your mindset towards the beginning of the night, how do you feel that it's shifted in these past few hours, and how do you anticipate it shifting in the future?

DANIELLE DU:

I will say in the beginning, because it was just when results were starting to come out and everything was looking even, right from the get-go, obviously like it was fresh data and it was like, you know, things are still coming out. So, it was more uncertain then, I felt definitely a lot more nervous then. 

But now, as things are starting to kind of not wrap up because they're not even close to being wrapped up, but as they're kind of starting to hit certain midpoints and like, as we're just getting more information, I feel more reassured. 

It's almost as though, like, I don't know, I keep coming back to the electoral college, which kind of sucks in, in principle, if I think about it, but the more information comes out, like I feel better about it.

I don't know. I feel like it's just, it's been going better than I thought the worst situation could be. Cause in my head I kind of wind up, this is the best situation, this is the worst situation and it's kind of what's in between.

And we're actually in the in-between area, this leaning towards the better situation right now, which is more than I had expected. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Is there anything else on your mind? Anything I didn't ask or anything that you're feeling — that you feel is important to discuss, to think through, that you would advise? 

DANIELLE DU: 

I guess advice-wise, just not losing hope. I think that's the biggest thing, because a lot of people feel like an election is the end all be all. It's not, there's so much more that could be done. 

Even if tonight ends up in a better situation that we were hoping for. Even so, I feel like you can't get content with that. Like, I feel like a lot of people will see an election happened. It happens, the results come out. The president's decided and they are like, "Okay, that is my limit for civil or civic, like involvement for the year." 

And I think my thing is like, don't stop there. There's so much work to be done, especially on a local level because presidential elections, as important as they are, are still ultimately national.

And then there's a lot of local difference that you can make instead. Especially for political things like this. I am running out of words. But year, I guess don't stop getting involved. That's the thing. Cause everyone wants to go out and vote. There's always a huge push to go vote. Especially, this year. This year, there was such a huge push to go vote, just everywhere. I don't know if you guys noticed social media was insane. 

Yeah, just not to get content. And then I guess the only other thing I would have left is like to be wary of like early conclusions. I feel like so many people are like, "When tonight ends, that's like, that's it," but there's states still counting ballots. There's still results from the electoral college to come out. There's still states I think that haven't even like released most of their data yet. Or there are still like polling places are still open. Things like that. I don't know. 

It's always hard when you're bombarded by so much data, especially about something that's so high stakes like this, it is hard to kind of pick out like, OK, this one, I can actually, not trust the information but this information can be, is the most accurate for the time being, and just being able to sift through the data and maybe not get so lost in the delusion, just to be able to ground yourself before like getting lost in that. 

Don't get lost in the sauce. I guess that's what I'm saying. 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

So how has ASU helping its students to combat these feelings of uneasiness? 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

Across all campuses, colleges are hosting post-election events to help their students navigate this period of uncertainty. 

MORGAN FISCHER: 

We first spoke with Dean Melanie Alvarez of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to hear about their post-election day open Zoom event.

MELANIE ALVAREZ: 

Hi, my name is Melanie Asp Alvarez. I'm an assistant Dean with the Walter Cronkite school of Journalism and Mass Communication and formerly executive producer of Cronkite News, our professional program at the Cronkite School and I was an executive producer and producer for TV news stations all across the country.

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

So, Dean Mel, could you tell me a little bit about these events that Cronkite is putting on to help students cope with this post-election stress? 

MELANIE ALVAREZ: 

Absolutely. We recognize that this is a unique time in our nation's history, not so much for politics, but for the type of public health situation that our students have been facing and their own return to a learning environment that is much different from what they expected.

So when you couple the stress of a highly volatile presidential election on top of that, we were hoping to be as mindful as possible about students' stress levels and their coping mechanisms and ways that we could offer support. That said, the Cronkite leadership team is going to be hosting an open Zoom for students tomorrow, the day after election day from 9am to 4pm. 

It's an opportunity for students to discuss anything on their minds and also for us in the Cronkite leadership to get a better sense of what would be most helpful for students moving forward. We're really prepared to react in real time as we evaluate students' needs, desires, wants and kind of the tone of how we should move forward as a school in supporting our students.

MORGAN FISCHER:

What are the effects you were hoping to see from students from these events? 

MELANIE ALVAREZ: 

I just want their honesty, quite honestly. I know that sounds very simplistic, but I think one of the dangers in situations like this is that students tend to hold their stress in. They tend to be embarrassed at how they might feel or awkward because they've never been through anything like this before. I really just hope that students consider us a safe space to express whatever they might be feeling. 

Some students might be thrilled with the way the election pulled out. Some people might be really, really upset and concerned.

Some people just might have that uncertainty weighing in on them. The fact that we might not know where things stand today, tomorrow, for the next two or three months. And that can take a huge toll of feeling insecure or just unsure of what tomorrow might bring each and every day. It's hard to keep focus on the things that we're asking our students to stay focused on their schoolwork, their projects, journalism, when they feel insecure in other parts of their lives.

And that can be, you know, the way the political system is playing out. That can be the way a particular candidate or politician might be making decisions that will impact their futures and their families.

I can tell you, we're not going to have all of the answers. None of us will, but we want to make sure that we're offering support where we can, and we don't know what our students need unless they tell us. 

So that's where I'm circling back to honesty. I hope our students are honest about what their needs are and how we might be able to support them. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

We then spoke to Shea Alevy, Assistant Director of Student Services at Barrett, the Honors College, to hear how their post-election processing and reflection event helps students to cope with their post-election feelings.

SHEA ALEVY: 

My name is Shea Alevy. I'm the assistant director for student services with Barrett, the Honors College. Within my role, I oversee a lot of our student support, a lot of our student retention efforts. I also do a lot of programming surrounding wellness, sustainability and as you saw, uh, civic engagement as well.

Pleasure to tell you a little bit more about what we had done within our college and why we chose to program and engage in this way based off what we heard from our students and so, happy to answer any questions that you have and excited to kind of share our story. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

So, Barrett's putting on, or Barrett put on rather, an event called post-election processing and reflection. Could you tell me a little bit more about that event? 

SHEA ALEVY: 

Sure. Absolutely. Well, the event was born just out of a need and out of a recognition that students are under lots of stress these times, without it being election season, without it being a pandemic, you know? And so it's, it's closing up on the last few weeks of midterms. You all as students are probably feeling that as well. 

And so, we know that right around the time of November, that's a stressful time for a lot of students involved in higher education. And so, to add on the fact that we're doing all new things with the pandemic, we are in a position where we're not seeing people as often.

We're not looking people in the eye, we're not giving or receiving as many hugs or physical contact. There's a lot of emotional stress that can come with that, and you know, our students at Barrett aren't removed from that threat or that risk essentially, all of our students are here at ASU. And so, similar to what we do often is we identify what it is that our students may be needing or what they're asking for and see what we could do to provide that, especially if we have the resources to provide that space for students. 

And so not only just based off of what we saw this year, how contentious and how toxic some of the relationships or the conversations can be surrounding the election, but we also learned a lot about how our students react from the 2016 election and wanted to ensure that students were not left without someone to talk or process these things through. 

The elections can be very complex and confusing as you all have seen, you know, popular vote versus the electoral college, you know, how do different counties and gubernatorial races? What does it look like when it's not being announced on election night? Which is when it normally is, like all of these things kind of culminate into, this like cocktail of stress, often.

And so, we've wanted to be there for students. We didn't have any assumption. It was a super fluid and open space, and we just wanted to provide an opportunity for them to see and students to see that like we have their back and anything that they needed to process, they could. We stay nonpartisan, we stay supportive. We stay inclusive of all perspectives, and I think that is somewhat of a rarity these days. You know what I mean? 

And I think a lot of students find comfort in recognizing that they can come as they are, and they can come with whatever political ideologies, with whatever underlying stress, predetermined or preexisting thoughts or conditions, whatever that looks like. Coming as you are and being affirmed in your identities and in your values was a very strong, important part of this event.

We also wanted to celebrate the fact that students participated in the democratic process, which, 1. isn't a given for people their age across the world. 2. This is history that we're talking about it's a very historic election for multiple reasons, and 3. there's a lot to celebrate and a lot to do after the election.

Like our job as involved citizens is not stop on Nov. 4. We vote with our actions. We vote with our dollar every single day. And so also equipping students who come and participate in that event, showing them what that looks like, what works and (what) nonpartisan, neutral advocacy groups can they be involved in, what are things that they're passionate about that they can start to pursue?

Because it doesn't stop them, and the kind of students that we work with, we want them to be involved in the civic engagement or the service process their entire time here at ASU and hopefully beyond that.

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

For the State Press:

MORGAN FISCHER: 

I'm Morgan Fisher. 

STEFANO CONTRERAS: 

I'm Stefano Contreras.


Reach the reporters at scontr16@asu.edu and mcfisch4@asu.edu or follow @contrerastefano and @morgfisch on Twitter.

Like State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.


×

Notice

This website uses cookies to make your expierence better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.