With tensions at an all-time high for many in the country, some students chose to spend Election Night among their peers, watching the results roll in at the Student Union Building, as it became more evident that Republican candidate Donald Trump would win the presidency.
The event, which was organized by ASUNM Governmental Affairs, represented an unbiased, neutral venue for students.
“The Millennial generation came out in record numbers this election, proving the notion that college-aged students are getting involved at a faster rate than ever,” said Nathan Cowan, director of Governmental Affairs. “ASUNM GA wanted to provide a non-partisan avenue to watch this historic event.”
With phones out and Twitter feeds constantly refreshing, there was an almost tangible feeling of unease in the air at the flagship university of a predominantly blue state.
Audible reactions could be heard as the vote totals for each poll were being reported, and the winner of each battleground state announced.
Bibiana Seng, a junior mathematics major, sat near the front of the crowd, chatting animatedly with a group friends while keeping updated on her phone.
“We’ve all been checking different sources and talking about things that are going on. She’s checking Google, I’ve been checking Buzzfeed, FiveThirtyEight, all the sites,” she said.
Amanda Drake, a sophomore pre-art studio major sitting next to Seng, seemed apprehensive as early projections for North Carolina and Nevada sprawled across the screen.
“(Donald) Trump has been about excluding so many people,” she said. “I’m scared for my life, and I’m scared for my friends’ lives.”
The majority of the crowd seemed to be supporting Hillary Clinton, with reactions becoming more and more lively as Trump began to rack up electoral and popular vote totals throughout the night.
Patrick Joseph, a junior political science major, stood toward to back of the crowd, observing reactions behind the brim of a red “Make America Great Again” hat.
“I’m 39, and I’ve never voted for a president that won. Most of you guys are a lot younger than me. I’ve been through this a couple times,” he said. “The spectacle that’s on TV, younger people get caught up with it because it’s your first time experiencing this stuff. And we’re in a university, so we’ve probably got a lot of Hillary supporters.”
As the night’s events continued, and with Trump’s unexpected win in North Carolina, a heavy atmosphere settled on the room.
Though people had been coming and going throughout the night, at around 10 p.m. the SUB Atrium was filled as students stared intently at the screen.
A few international students, visiting from the University of Leeds, made an appearance just as things were reaching the peak of intensity.
“I thought Americans would learn something from Brexit,” said Ellie Kearns, referring to a controversial decision by United Kingdom voters to leave the European Union. “I just didn’t think Trump would get this far as a credible candidate.”
Sitting next to her, fellow exchange student Luke Turner agreed.
“How can someone say such awful things and be leader of the most powerful country in the entire world?” he asked.
Others around them, like junior and Gary Johnson supporter Nicholas Kemp, said he didn’t have a prepared reaction for either outcome.
“I have a feeling there’s going be a lot of disappointed groups tomorrow," he said. "I was a part of a group that went for Johnson, and we were hoping he was going to win this state, which it doesn’t look like he will. It sucks.”
As it became more apparent of the election’s unexpected ultimate results, the room became slightly more muted.
Around 11:30 p.m. everyone was informed that the SUB would be closing in 15 minutes. With scattered protests, students began to accept the reality of a President-elect Donald Trump and packed up their belongings to watch the rest of the proceedings elsewhere.
Gabriela Garcia Huff is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thegreen_gablin.