Onafhankelijke journalistiek over de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam | Sinds 1953
15 juni 2024

& Cultuur

Americans at the VU are shocked

“I’m shocked, embarrassed, worried.” That is how two Americans at the VU react to the US election results. They didn’t see it coming that Donald Trump would win the presidential elections.

“It’s a sad day for America, and a sad day for science”, says professor in evolutionary biology Toby Kiers. “Trump and his supporters believe in creation; that God created the world a few thousand years ago! Trump denies that evolution exist. And I am a professor in evolutionary biology. I feel complete disconnect with my country.”

For Jake Lensing-Sharp, who works at the International Office, it was his first time voting. “It’s such a bummer to submit your vote and get these results. I’m embarrassed about how much support there was for Trump under the radar. From people who didn’t talk about it out loud, but voted for him anyhow.”

Stay up

Kiers and Lensing-Sharp stayed up all night to follow the elections. “We were waiting for Hillary to take the lead”, says Lensing-Sharp. “But it never happened. Trump was the most unqualified presidential candidate ever, which also makes him the most unqualified president. I can see business people go into politics, become a Senator, but he just skipped all steps in between.”

“I didn’t feel this despair in so long”, Kiers says. “My hope just washed away. This is setting back the clock for so many things that we worked so hard for. Will they overturn abortion rights? I had to teach my Master’s students about evolution this morning. I had to tell them that this is going to affect them. It will have an effect on jobs for scientists, grants, how data are interpreted. I just want to crawl into bed and not come out.”

Back to America

Lensing-Sharp will go back to the United States in December. He’s from Connecticut, a state that primarily voted for Hillary Clinton. He is relieved, but not much. “In the end I don’t have to question my American identity. But my fellow students and friends who are abroad, who come from Pakistan, Yemen, for them it is much more concerning to go back. Are the coming back to a place where they are welcome? It’s uncertain. We don’t know how Trump is going to represent himself.”

Another reason why Kiers feels embarrassed are her two children. “It’s hard to go back now, and introduce America to my kids. They’re 7 and 9 years old and they were born in the Netherlands. Their idea of America is that of a great country. I feel ashamed.”

This item was written in English to make sure all Americans at the VU can read it. Please feel free to submit your comments below.


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