On October 12th, 2016, at 12:00PM ET, campus leaders across Pennsylvania convened in an online press call, a kind of virtual press conference, to denounce Republican candidate Donald Trump and voice their support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The call was facilitated by Pennsylvania for Hillary.
The press call was in response to a 2005 video obtained and recently released by The Washington Post in which the Republican candidate details past sexual advances towards women in addition to his past denigrating comments about women.
“I wasn’t shocked in the least,” said Chelcie Alcorn, Founder of the University of Pittsburgh Students for Hillary. “I know this is the kind of man Donald Trump is,” she said.
Alexandra Necolettos, a student at Penn State University, voiced her concerns regarding the Trump campaign’s rationalization of his remarks. “He isn’t just saying these things; he means these things,” she said.
“This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today,” Trump had said regarding media coverage of recent video leak.
Sarah Zandi, a sexual assault prevention activist and University of Pennsylvania student, echoes the concerns voiced by Necolettos. “The most disturbing this about Donald Trump’s Hot Mic video is his campaign’s response to it. They justify and normalize this behavior,” she said.
Jasmine Rashid ‘18, Co-Founder of the Swarthmore Women of Color Collective, went on to discuss the Trump campaign’s assertion that coverage of these comments is a distraction from the policy at hand. “To me that signals a very real disconnect between how people think a culture of sexual assault is actually reproduced,” she said.
“For women in this country, rape culture is our culture, period,” Zandi said.
The call was then open to questions, and campus leaders were asked to comment on Republican candidates who have criticized Trump but have not yet un-endorsed him. “These people who are trying to stay on the middle ground, they are absolutely complicit in this rhetoric and completely complicit in this culture,” Zandi responded.
“This is not the kind of person we need leading the free world,” said Alcorn. Zandi agreed and voiced her support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “Everything Hillary has ever done […] tells me that she’s going to help survivors make their way back home,” she said.
Featured image courtesy of NPR.