The results of the 2016 elections have come as a shock to many Smith students and members of the greater Northampton community. I’ve felt weight of the worry, fear, and confusion as I walk to class with my fellow students. Tissues are thoughtfully placed around houses and gatherings are being planned frequently. Immediately following the election, all students were invited to John M. Greene Hall to gather in a space where their thoughts of the election results could be expressed. The college has even set up a resources page for students to use as they grieve and process. President McCartney also opened her home on November 13 to students so they could express their feelings and thoughts regarding the election.
The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has collaborated on and planned several events to support students as they process the election results and even held events before the elections to allow students a space to distress and handle their anxiety. The Smith Christian Fellowship hosted a service in the Chapel sanctuary on November 9 right after the election for students to lament, pray and process the results.
Among one of the events sponsored by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life was a Call to Action Vigil on November 15. Students gathered inside the Campus Center for an open microphone where individuals could speak to the group about what has been on their hearts regarding the election results. As this dialogue developed, the space seemed to reflect the hurt and tension that many members of marginalized communities have experienced as implication of the election results has begun to sink in.
The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life seeks to continue to create nonjudgmental spaces for people from all ethnic background, sexual orientations, genders, and abilities to process, reflect, and grow. It is especially important now that these spaces are created when so many identities are under attack. In the wake of the election results, religious identities, specifically Islam, have also been threatened. The Center for Religious and Spiritual will seek to extend resources and support specifically to these communities moving forward. Granted, the election results and subsequent responses are much larger than one organization or institution. The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life strives to be as Matilda Cantwell puts it “a spiritual sanctuary for people in difficult times.”