Following a night of demonstrations and public backlash against President-elect Donald Trump, two separate organizations on campus held public support group meetings to help students cope with this anxiety.
“The intent is not a protest,” said Taffie Bucci, the university’s counselor, in an interview before hosting a Wednesday evening event. “The intent is to talk about our feelings as a community.”
When Bucci woke up on Wednesday and saw the news, she decided to quickly schedule a group counseling session in Lawrence Hall the same day. The school was cooperative, and the word got out through the counseling center’s Facebook page as well as through an email blast to students. Around 25 students showed up to the impromptu meeting.
Many of the students were truly hurting.
“Last night, I stayed up drinking and smoking cigarettes,” junior student Troy Patrick said after the event.
It isn’t just that these students have a simple political disagreement: they are scared of drastic changes in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Sophomore Tim Grebeck is concerned that he will lose thousands of dollars of health care savings if the Trump administration repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly dubbed Obamacare.
Grebeck, who is 20 years old, has autism and requires visits to a primary care physician, eye doctors, therapists and psychiatrists, as well as prescription medications. Currently, because of the ACA, he can stay on his parents’ health insurance until he is 26, which saves him $2,000-3,000 a month, according to Grebeck.
“I know I can’t afford that on my own,” Grebeck said. “In fact, I know my parents can’t afford that on their own.”
Also concerning to him is the fact that Autism is also considered a pre-existing condition. Without the ACA, the current ban on turning down customers with a pre-existing condition wouldn’t be there for him.
Trump has consistently run on repealing Obamacare throughout his campaign, and both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have stated they’re fully prepared to aid him in doing so. However, after meeting with President Obama, Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he would like to keep the two parts of the ACA Grebeck said he fears will go away.
Heather Leasure, a transgender student, also felt emotionally affected from the results. The conversation, however, encouraged Leasure to become more involved in activism.
“I have a fire inside of me,” she said.
The other group was hosted by Helen Fallon with the Honors Program on Friday afternoon.
“The prospect of a Trump presidency has frightened people,” Fallon said after the event. “It’s frightened me.”
Fallon felt compelled to do this meeting whenever she saw the pain students were feeling. “I had students crying in my classroom,” Fallon said.
This smaller event had around 10 students in attendance. One of the students was Krystopher Baklarz, a freshman sports, arts and entertainment management major and honors student.
“I was nervous at first to speak up, but once Helen started speaking I eased in,” Baklarz said.
The group ate pizza and talked out their feelings.
“It was about taking the time to be with friends and people who will be supportive,” said Vivienne Wilkinson, another freshman honors student.
Reports have come out all around the country of deeply upset students and faculty. These sort of support groups are not specific to Point Park University.
Bucci also hosted a support group specifically for Trump supporters on Tuesday from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM in the Thayer Hall JVH Auditorium. The support group was held after the Globe’s publication deadline.
“This election year has been challenging for everyone – so much divisiveness and lack of connection,” Bucci said in the email sent to all students. “Even though your nominee, Donald Trump, won the election you may be feeling some stress or other strong emotions…My focus will be on processing your thoughts, feelings and hope, as well as ways to communicate and connect with the people in your lives.”