The American Election Through the Eyes of an International Student
November 9, 2020
Tara Draper ’23
The Presidential election has been all that is on anyone's lips at the moment. The hot topics include, which way will Pennsylvania vote, when will Nevada finish counting, and who exactly will win. A lot of places are preparing for riots in the street no matter which way the election goes. We are living through a very intense moment in American history, and we all know it.
As an international student who is unable to vote in US elections, I felt pummelled by all the election nonsense. I had a very narrow understanding of how the electoral college worked, or really how the two-party system functioned. I also felt like I didn't have a right to an opinion. One class I am taking, Intro to Africana Studies with Justin Emeka, spent the better part of the last two weeks discussing the election and exactly what it means for this country. One class, in particular, was exciting, but also highlighted just how much of an outsider I am. We spent the majority of the class answering polls, where we discussed our opinions on the election. Everything from 'are we going to vote' to 'do we believe people who are incarcerated should be allowed to vote'. All of these polls were anonymous, and the classroom was a space that allowed us to speak up with our opinions and discuss the positives and negatives of each issue.
Watching these election results flowing in has been an interesting experience. Watching the states flip back and forth between blue and red and seeing the projections were rather insightful. No matter what your political standing, this election will be impactful on you. I'm not here to tell anyone how to vote or how to feel; your opinions are your opinions. It has just been an interesting time being in a blue dot in a rather red area of the country. Oberlin tends to vote blue, and the surrounding areas of Lorain County tend to go red. Once you leave the outskirts of town, you will see signage for a variety of political parties, on both sides of the aisle, clearly demonstrating America's First Amendment rights.
With all of this said, I believe Oberlin is one of the best places to be during a time like this. When the original restrictions were being placed on F1 student visa holders, Oberlin was up and ready with a plan to hold in-person classes for international students to try and allow us to still study, despite the pandemic. Even though big cities like New York and DC were boarding up their stores, Oberlin functions practically unaffected by the election. Obviously, the victorious party will put into place laws that affect the college and everyone in the country, but no matter which one it is, the town of Oberlin will stand together.
Oberlin is a place where everyone feels free to speak their minds and hold their own beliefs without fear of judgement and persecution. I know I was fearful about certain elements of this election, as a queer international student, but I know that I have a community that supports me no matter what.