OBERLIN — Students, faculty and residents grappled with their feelings about a Donald Trump presidency in the aftermath of his election, something many in the left-leaning city said they never saw coming.
Students outside the Slow Train Cafe wept as they watched Hillary Clinton deliver her concession speech on cell phones and tablets.
Oberlin was one of only four municipalities in Lorain County that voted overwhelmingly for four more years of a Democrat in office: 4,575 voted for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. A mere 412 voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Elizabeth Kuperman, a resident of the city, said the first thing she did when she got up Wednesday morning was head to Tappan Square to spray paint the rocks. In bold colors, one read, “Love still trumps hate” and another read, “Not my president.”
She then walked around the city for hours holding a sign that read “Hugs,” and at one point stopped to write “I am sad” in chalk on the ground.
“I feel deeply sad. I’m disappointed,” Kuperman said. “I’ve had many people break down in my arms, actually.”
Later in the day, she hung up sheets of paper with an apology to the planet.
“Many of us are not OK with this, and I want the rest of the planet to know I’m really, really sorry,” Kuperman said.
Matthew Kornberg, a student at Oberlin College, hoped to bring the campus together and take advantage of Oberlin’s “unique position” to attract national media. He shared a plan to divert student funds to protect students who may lose health care or citizenship.
During an informal gathering to discuss the election, some students agreed with the call for action, but other students said they were still in mourning.
Jack Goldberg, a student fellow with the Clinton campaign on campus, said he was still in shock.
“I just put all this work in and just to see it come out like this — I know the anger is going to come eventually, but now I’m too numb to feel anything,” Goldberg said.
He attributed Trump’s success to sexism.
“She should have been president, and America denied her of this because she is a woman and the fact that all of my friends of color are scared for their lives and their safety right now, I don’t even know how to process it, really.”
Many students said they did not go to class Wednesday but instead met to talk about what’s next. They described the feeling around the city as “complete disbelief” and said they could hear screaming and crying from their neighbors when the numbers were finalized.
“Hillary completely out-candidates Trump a million-to-one, and it’s insane that he actually won,” said Santago Concepcion-Wall. “The future is looking kind of bleak.”
At 4:30 p.m., hundreds of students poured into a campus lecture hall for a panel titled “The Day After: Making Sense of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.”
Those who couldn’t fit in the lecture hall listened outside as the campus radio station broadcasted it live.
The panelists, professors and leaders from the community all said they were prepared to make very different remarks at the event. They said they expected to share relief with the students but instead were up all night worrying about the future of the country.
“How do we make sense of this moment to the extent that making sense is possible?” one panelist said.
Another panelist said Trump is “truly the emperor with no clothes.”
“I don’t understand how so many people were moved by his campaign,” she said. “Like many of you, I’m completely traumatized today.”