Our nation's political climate has caused a great deal of division inside some schools among students. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says Amherst Center High School teens discuss how the Trump presidency has changed relationships as part of our Student Journals series.
This past school year, Kelsey Dux, now a senior, conducted interviews with several Amherst High students on a variety of topics. Her questions about politics and President Trump generated some insightful comments from her classmates.
“Can you tell me your name,” Dux asks. “My name is Ahmed Shah.”
“What do you think Trump means when he says Make America Great Again?” Dux questions.
“I think he’s focusing more on the side of whites. One thing they all complain about personally is that the immigrants are taking their jobs and they don’t feel like their talent is being accepted, which connects to me, talking back to the school – people’s talents are not being appreciated, their works aren’t being appreciated. It’s not about immigrants taking over their jobs, it’s about certain whites feeling their whole country is being taken over slowly because your jobs are taken over and all that. People just don’t like change. He, I think what he means by ‘Making it Great Again' is that getting rid of that problem – that issue of immigration taking over those jobs and getting them back to what they want in their hand and basically which is no change,” Shah responded.
“Can you tell me your name,” asks Dux. “Alea Tiberi,” the young woman responds.
“What do you think Trump means when he says Make America Great Again?” Dux questions Tiberi.
“I think he means restore to its former glory, which personally, I don’t agree with, because I think we already are great. I don’t think we need to go back to a former greatness, I think we already are great. But I think he’s appealing to especially older people who maybe have this thought that – like baby boomers who think that it better back in the day, and millennials ruining everything. I think he inspires nostalgia,” Tiberi answered.
“Can you tell me your name,” Dux asks. “Michael Ferris.”
“How would you describe a great country, or what do you envision as a great America?” Dux questions.
“I would say peace and unity with a lot of people. Everybody from different cultures and background and color and race would come together and not have any negative opinions about anybody,” responded Ferris.
“I’m Sharlita Cooper. I’m a senior at Amherst High School,” stated Cooper.
“What do you think Trump means when he says Make America Great Again?” Dux asked Cooper.
“I don’t know what he means because from what I’m seeing, it doesn’t seem like he’s making it great. The Muslim ban, I believe, that really had me sick to my stomach. That was just crazy, because you have people who need help — you can’t just turn a blind eye to them just because some stuff happened to us that to us that was probably from their country. It’s not them, it’s their country. It’s the people there that’s doing that, we shouldn’t let them affect how we treat the other people that live there. That’s just not ok at all,” answered Cooper.
“How do you think the Presidential election has affected the everyday interactions between your classmates? Would you say it’s opened up to more conversations, that would be considered civil, or do you think there is more unspoken tension or spoken tension?” Dux questioned the student.
“I would say unspoken – because you don’t really know who supported Trump and you don’t know who didn’t. You had some people who was like ‘yeah, I don’t not support him at all’, but some people ‘yeah, I do support him because it was civilized – nobody was fist fighting or anything while the campaign was going on, then like at the end — the school’s a safe zone. You can’t really point out “oh, I don’t like him” any more, you have to be more respectful and more quiet. That’s how I feel,” Cooper responded.
“So how do you think that your school administration has approached this divisiveness between classmates?” Dux questioned.
“Don’t talk about Trump,” Cooper replied.
“That’s interesting. They have a more of a take where it’s more, 'don’t talk about politics'?” Dux asked.
“Basically, because when the campaign was going on there was a lot of division. I’m 19 and from what I’ve seen this is the most people have been divided. Friends aren’t even friends anymore because of this. I think it’s just crazy. So I think they just say don’t do Trump — don’t talk about him,” Cooper declared.