Students Gather for Peace Circle After Divisive Election

Eileen O'Gorman | The PHOENIXMembers of the Loyola community gather on the West Quad for a peace circle on Nov. 11.

Nov. 9 marked the end of the 2016 election season, but for some Loyola students, the effects of the election are far from over.

Students and faculty met on the West Quad of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus to participate in a peace circle on Friday, Nov. 11, to discuss and process the results of Election Day. There have been many emotions and arguments since Donald Trump was elected president, with many worried about his controversial stances on immigration, gun laws and climate change. Protests against his election have occurred in major cities across the country.

“This began because after the election I saw a lot of pain throughout the community. I also saw a lot of differing opinions,” said senior Jessica Nosalski, the creator of the event, “I think it’s important to embrace uncertainty.”

Nosalski, a criminal justice major, said she was very pleased with the turnout and especially grateful to have participants from multiple political viewpoints.

Despite harsh wind and rain, the peace circle attracted nearly 50 students, faculty and members of the community. The event drew people from both sides of the political spectrum.

The circle grew in number as the hour-long event continued. Participants passed a small metal heart around the circle and took turns answering questions asked by Nosalski. Those questions included, “What is a realization you’ve had due to the election?” and “What is one thing you would want someone who’s completely different from you to know?”

Junior Marco Chilelli, one of about 10 Trump supporters at the event, said he wants others to know what his experience has been post-election.

“I feel like in the media today, they’re not showing the amount of harassment that us Trump supporters have been going through,” said the finance major. “I wanted to share my perspective on how the results of this election affected me and what my own experience has been, and also hear what others had to say and have a collective dialogue.”

While the majority of participants voiced their concern over the new President-elect, the peace circle didn’t become violent or hostile. Many students came in order to broaden their perspectives, according to the feedback from the participants,

First-year student Sarah Moore said she participated in the process to gain a deeper understanding of others.

“I came out today because I tend to surround myself with people who think very similarly to me.” said the 18-year-old. “The only forum I’ve seen other people’s viewpoints on is behind a computer screen with Facebook, and I think a lot gets lost that way. I’m trying to become more open-minded, and I think this was a good start.”

Among the many opinions that were presented at the peace circle, there was talk of compassion and understanding. Senior Jonah Jett, a soldier, had a lasting message for the crowd.

“We’re here to look at people with curiosity and care, and it’s important to know that we’re here together,” said the political science major. “It’s why I chose to be a soldier: because I care about each and every one of you, regardless of your viewpoints.”

The peace circle is one of three Loyola-sponsored events being held around campus. Other events include “Undocumented Student and Allies Circle of Support” and “Where Do We Go From Here?”, a dialogue about the election held by Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs staff, according to an email from Vice President of Student Development Jane Neufeld.

Neufeld addressed the Loyola student body in this email about the election’s results and named resources, such as the Wellness Center and Campus Ministry, that students may consult to discuss their reactions.

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