Universities Prepare For Election Day: Play Dough and Stockpiles

Universities Prepare For Election: Play Dough and Stockpiles; GWU May Again Face Bizarre Requests, Depending on Outcome

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Universities Prepare For Election Day And Possible Outcomes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 2, 2020) - Universities are preparing in different ways for Election Day and possible outcomes, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who played a role in his university's response to the turmoil which followed Donald Trump's election in 2016.

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George Washington University [GWU] has just sent an email urging its students, living on or off campus, “to be prepared for possible election related disruptions” near the campus in Washington, D.C., and to stockpile a week’s supply of food and medication.

The emergency email warning included tips such as “pick foods that have a long shelf life,” “stock up on over the counter medications” and “be aware of your physical surroundings” starting Tuesday.

Interestingly, Howard University and Georgetown University, both also in the District of Columbia, did not send email messages similar to these sent by GWU.

In contrast, after the 2016 presidential election was over, UC Hastings Law School felt the need to provide a “Chill Zone” in its library where delicate law students could “relax, meditate, do yoga, and take a quick nap to reenergize” from its outcome. To help them cope with stress, the room is filled with nap pads, bean bag chairs, and yoga mats.

Trump Derangement Syndrome

Two other law schools went even further, one providing an “embedded psychologist” in a room full of bubbles and play dough, and another a room with nap pads, bean bag chairs, and yoga mats; all this to help students recover from what some termed "Trump derangement syndrome."

At the University of California, both students and faculty demanded that the American flag not be displayed because it makes some students uncomfortable and creates an unsafe, hostile environment. A student leader proclaimed that the U.S. flag is a symbol of hate speech as offensive as Nazi and Islamic State flags, and that the U.S. is the world’s most evil nation.

Students from Hampshire College burned the American flag the college had lowered to half-mast the day after the election, thereby forcing the college to temporarily remove American flags from its campus altogether.

As one indication of how widespread such activities were, more than 80 campuses reportedly participated in “sanctuary campus” protests attended by thousands of students.

Thus, in this year which has already experienced unprecedented unrest - including even riots and civil takeovers growing out of concerns over racial justice, the pandemic with many deaths and related restrictions on business, and massive economic disruptions - some universities probably should prepare even more extreme measures to sooth students who may become upset by the election's outcome, especially if they are far from home in residence at their respective campuses.

The Bizarre Demands Recieved By GWU

GWU may have more reason than most to worry about possible student reaction to this year's election. In 2016, a band of GWU students, upset by Trump’s election, created a long list of largely irrational demands, including protection from various things which allegedly upset them.

The bizarre demands included that GWU take students’ tuition money and divert it to fund off-campus projects having nothing to do with higher education such as job training, community centers, and facilities for the homeless, that the university formally recognize "white supremacy," etc., says Banzhaf.

Equally irrational, he says, was the basis for their demands: that having GWU police provide security on campus is an "act of violence" because police in general have been favorable to Trump, thereby "placing us in these officers’ care is an act of violence."

Banzhaf denounced these demands and caused a massive publicity backlash, with headlines in the media entitled "Inmates Trying to Take Over GWU Asylum in DC," "GWU Students Claim Use of Pro-Trump Campus Cops Is an ‘Act of Violence,’" and "GWU Students: Campus Police Protection an ‘Act of Violence’ - Because Cops Support Trump."

One called it one of "Three of the Most Absurd Campus Reactions to Trump’s Win," saying: "In one of the GWU students’ most bizarre demands, they called on the university to ‘protect its students’ by not forcing them, in an ‘act of violence,’ to remain under the protection of campus police."

Faced with this publicity barrage, GWU largely ignored their demands, reports Banzhaf, but who knows what students at GWU and elsewhere might expect if Trump somehow wins again, or alternatively if he loses but questions the election results, resists leaving office etc., he warns.