Callie Crossley, of WGBH News, a Wellesley College Alumna, attended Tuesday's Election night "Watch Party" for Hillary Clinton '69 at her Alma Mater. Crossley reflected on the experience with WGBH's Morning Edition host Bob Seay the morning after. Just hours earlier Clinton had conceded the race via telephone to Republican Donald Trump, who was declared President-Elect.
Bob Seay: There's probably no group more disappointed with Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump than students staff and alumni at her alma mater Wellesley College. Thousands gathered at a watch party to follow the returns. Here's a clip from Wellesley President, Paula Johnson, after it became clear that Clinton wasn't going to win.
“We must transform this moment. We must harness the power that is gathering for this purpose and for these values. Now more than ever, we must be part of a momentum that will take us forward.”
Bob Seay: Callie, thanks for coming in on a day that has you feeling more than a little disappointed, I'm sure.
Callie Crossley: Yes it was. It was, you know, overwhelming to be at Wellesley, the place that shapes women for leaders, leadership, and obviously shaped Hillary Clinton. And the place where she really found her voice. And many of her classmates and others who were never her classmates thought if there ever were to be the first woman President for the United States, it would be Hillary Clinton.
Bob Seay: Share with us how the mood changed as it was apparent that Trump began the surge that we've been reporting.
Callie Crossley: Well, there was so much excitement when you got there... particularly among students, the young students and there are so many alums... Alums came from all over... Some from as far as way as Australia, just to be on the campus in the moment. We talked to a family of folks who drove from Columbus, Ohio to be there. There were some of her classmates, of course, a small number of them, and the students... The youngest soon to be alums, I guess were most excited.They were wearing T-shirts. There was a cut-out poster of her and they just scrambled to take pictures in front of it. There were cupcakes with little tiny sugar shards referring to the shards of glass and the glass ceiling. All kinds of things, including I what I thought was very interesting... A keepsake, now I guess an historic one: a little hammer that said, "women shatter glass ceilings" So that was the high. And then as time went on there was kind of a low buzz. Really one of disbelief and shock that really best captures the mood in the room. People talking to each other but saying, “Can this be happening? Am I really seeing this?” Because it doesn't make sense to them. This was not to say that other folks didn't support Donald Trump very strongly. But for these young women, the thought of a smart woman who was prepared, who has the kinds of credentials that others yearn for, not achieving this highest goal was just too much to bear.
As it went on, it turned to sobbing, as it became clear that there was really no pathway. They shut the venue down right after President Paula Johnson spoke. And that was about almost two o'clock. Then some of the students said they would be going to another location to continue watching, but they were fairly resigned.
Bob Seay: And very emotional, as we've been hearing this morning. How do you think the students are going to eventually cope with this?
Callie Crossley: Well, you know when we talked to people earlier in the evening just to get a sense of which way where you go and they said you know, “No matter what happens,” of course they didn't think this would happen – “We intend to mount a challenge if it if it came to that... To stand up for what we believe is the best representation for women and their talents and contributions. And we're going to move that that movement forward.” The rest of what Paula Johnson, the president, said was that we [Wellesley] are about the pursuit of knowledge based in facts. Now that is a direct hit, I guess, at our now President-elect… And she said that's what we do here, we pursue knowledge, we base our studies on facts,and that's what we have to hold up. We have to be the beacon of that. That's what we're going to do. So that's what young women were saying they were going to do as well.
Bob Seay: Well,in his victory speech earlier this morning President-elect Trump sounded conciliatory toward Hillary Clinton and thanked her for her service. Let's listen.
“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country."
Bob Seay: And do you think he was sincere?
Callie Crossley: I think in the moment he was. I think that certainly there are lots of folks working with him on that speech, as we know.... Because he tends to be responding a bit differently... But I think when she called to concede, it became ≠ as it must for everyone who gets that concession – very real. And to understand that no matter how enthusiastic these people in front of me are there is a whole bunch of other people who did not support me and I have to think about it now. The problem is we just don't know because the pattern for Donald Trump in the past has been: this is what I say tonight – and tomorrow something completely changes. And in fact, he's got a lot of repair work, not just with others who didn't support him, but with a shattered party of his own. And then looking at how the Democrats are going to respond.... to try to figure out where they are in the world. So we have a whole political system that is turned upside down, and a lot of work to do and really people will look to him as they often do for not just conciliatory remarks, but moving in a direction that is inclusive. And I just I haven't seen that in the past, but we still we shall see.
Bob Seay: Now in one hour, Hillary Clinton will finally come out and address all of us. What do you think she's going to say?
Callie Crossley: I think this is going to be the speech of her life. I think we'll see what those Wellesley students were talking about and expect that a woman who can take a hit and get back up on her feet and say what needs to be said, not just for herself but beyond herself. You know the saying is a strong woman stands up for herself, but a stronger woman stands up for everybody else. That is what I expect from Hillary Clinton.
Bob Seay: Thank you so much for coming in. WGBH’s Callie Crossley, a Wellesley alumna. who was there election night. Disappointed, but always looking forward. Thank you, Callie. You're listening to WGBH’s MORNING EDITION.
To listen to Callie Crossley's interview with WGBH's Bob Seay Click on the audio file above.