Convivio: Tolerance, Diversity, and Campus Identity During the Trump Era

  • Abigail Wightman Mary Baldwin University


In May 2017, twenty “student-artists” at Mary Baldwin University collaborated to create a mural about our institution and our very diverse student community. As a three week May Term course, the mural project continued a difficult conversation about diversity and inclusion on campus that occurred in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. The purpose of this article is to discuss how ethnographic methods were used to develop mural themes, as well as to discuss the ways that the mural itself, and the process of its creation, reveal student anxieties about and responses to the policies and rhetoric of the Trump administration. Despite the very real threats to their own safety and that of their family and friends, student-artists challenged the inherent insecurity caused by administration policies through their insistence on inclusion, tolerance, and co-existence.