Caeden Tinklenberg-Staff Writer
Ryan McDermott, a Dordt sophomore, used the word “buzz” to describe what Trump brought to campus.
While McDermott considers himself well-informed and engaged in politics (having spent the previous summer as an intern in the Washington D.C. office of Rep. David Young R-Iowa District 3), he appreciated Dordt’s effort to expose other students to as many candidates as possible.
“I don’t want to be stuck in a glass case where all I get to see is Republican ideas” McDermott said. “My only disappointment is that neither Clinton nor Sanders came.”
McDermott acknowledges that Trump was the most well-known of all the candidates. Trump’s rally at Dordt gave some sort of validity to his Hollywood politician effect.
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Junior Gala Campos, a student from Mexico, remembers not being worried.
“It wasn’t until I realized that people were giving Trump more attention than the other candidates that I started getting nervous” said Campos. Even then she thought that his popularity was due to his celebrity status more than his ideas.
Campos admits now that more people share views with Trump than she could have imagined. “People informed me that they were going to vote for Trump, but not because they agreed with his racial comments. I was afraid my friends were going to change the way they acted around me” said Campos.
In a way, Campos is glad Trump stopped at Dordt, “His presence emboldened some of his supporters on campus, yes, but it energized his opposition even more.” She has found people to surround herself with and she knows who not to talk to if she is trying not to offend.
In the states on a student VISA, Campos worries that the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants is dissolving because of Trump’s comments about her nationality and her country. Moreover, travelling in and out of the US as a non-citizen is becoming riskier. “I’m going back home over spring break and I’m afraid it may take much longer to get back through security and customs because of Trump’s [Executive] Orders” said Campos.
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International students seem to express more interest in US politics than most American students.
Joshua Meribole, a student from Gambia said the simple explanation is Trump’s volatile approach to foreign affairs.
Most international students don’t like Trump at all according to Meribole, but that prevent all from buying a ticket to the show. “I attended his rally,” he admits, “but I fell asleep.”
Meribole wishes more Democrat candidates would have come to campus. “It’s important to see them live” he said. But the advantages of attending a Trump rally in person were hindered by the inability to ask questions thought Meribole, “I don’t think it was worth Trump coming from an academic standpoint. You could watch him on TV and get the exact same thing; there was no real learning experience.”
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Sophomore Matthew Ojo of Nigeria, who still disagrees with Dordt’s decision to invite Trump to campus, seconds the charge against Dordt for allowing Trump to speak without taking any questions.
Ojo doesn’t care that Dordt invited all the candidates. President Hoekstra’s letter justifying Trump’s invitation by saying he wanted students exposed to different opinions was perceived by Ojo as a disguised defense of Trump. “Everyone knew about Trump and everyone was talking about Trump before he came here.” There was nothing educational about this event.
Ojo likes the town hall style campaign events the most. “It’s more personal, it’s relatable. Even with First Monday speakers, the morning lecture isn’t nearly as important as the evening Q&A session” said Ojo. Of all the candidates that spoke at Dordt, Jeb Bush was Ojo’s favorite because he answered so many questions.
Both Ojo and Meribole think that administration should approach the political process from the standpoint that the purpose of these events is to benefit Dordt’s students and campus, not the campaign. If candidates don’t agree to the terms set by the college, Ojo doesn’t think they should be allowed to speak.
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“An educated decision can only be achieved after all perspectives have been explored” senior Courtney de Wolde said. “It would be hypocritical to let some candidates come, but bar others. I fully support Dordt’s decision to invite every candidate to campus.”
de Wolde said she is proud to be from a college that ensures opportunities are available to continue her education outside of the classroom.
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Jordan Swanson, a senior history major, agreed that allowing all candidates to campaign at Dordt was the right decision. “I believe that seeing Trump in person has created, for both his supporters and detractors, the perception that they know the ‘real’ Trump” he said.
However, Swanson thought that the college could have done a better job at distancing itself from Trump and his ideas.
“I think that [President] Hoekstra’s letter could have been stronger” said Swanson. “He focused on the one statement that stood out—the shooting statement—but there were many controversial comments made in that speech.”
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Trump isn’t the first controversial political figure to ever speak at Dordt. Leah Zuidema, Dean for Curriculum and Instruction at Dordt, was a high schooler when she heard Jesse Jackson preach to the Dordt community back in April of 1987 (if you want to read about this event check out the library archives for the April 23, 1987 issue of the Diamond). “I wanted to see somebody who was part of national politics and be able to see for myself without it being filtered” said Zuidema.
According to Zuidema, nothing you see on TV or hear on the radio compares to seeing the reactions of the people in the room, or feeling the tenor of others at a live event. “We [Dordt] give that stage [to politicians] so that students can participate and listen together, go home and discuss the ideas in community, and then make more informed decisions” said Zuidema. “That kind of process doesn’t happen with individually distributed media. I can listen to my podcast that you’ve never heard of and you can watch a cable channel that I don’t get, but we both attended the Trump rally and here we are talking about it.”