On Thursday, Oct. 17, University of Dallas students lined the streets of Dallas with thousands of others in hopes of attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rally.
The “Keep America Great” rally was held at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. To allow time for entrance and security screening, the doors opened at 4 p.m., three hours before Trump was scheduled to speak.
However, many found the event difficult to attend given the overwhelming size of the crowd and the disorganized method of entry.
Still, for those who entered or watched Trump’s speech outside of the arena, the rally was exciting for a variety of reasons.
The day before the rally, Trump met with congressional leaders to discuss his decision to pull troops out of Syria. It was the first meeting since the impeachment inquiry began, and Trump later tweeted a now-viral photo in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can be seen standing up with a finger pointed at Trump.
The Dallas rally itself generated a lot of attention due to the cost it has on taxpayers. According to an article from The Dallas Morning News, the rally cost the city of Dallas approximately $169,347. Most of the money went towards event security.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke held a counter-rally entitled “Rally Against Fear,” in Grand Prairie.
Among the UD students who attended the rally to hear Trump speak was junior politics major Katie Wallach.
“It was kind of surreal having the building almost be empty and then watching it fill up in a matter of two hours. I think it was about 20,000 people inside alone,” Wallach said.
Wallach attended the event with her mother, Beth Van Duyne, a conservative Republican and former mayor of Irving who was appointed regional administrator for Housing and Urban Development under the Trump administration.
“A lot of people forget that he does have good things to say, and he does do good things,” Wallach said.
“At least politics today for a good portion has just become so divided, that even if you like Trump even a tiny bit, you’re hated by half of the people in the country, which is not the way any president, Republican or Democrat, should be treated.”
Wallach said that while she supports Trump’s economic and international policies, she does not support the way he communicates. She also said that there seems to be no significant political divide at UD as a traditionally conservative campus.
Associate Professor of History Dr. Frank Swietek has posted political cartoons critical of Trump on his office door located on third floor Braniff. In an interview, Swietek expressed his views on Trump.
“[Trump’s] own religiosity seems to be suspect. He’s certainly not a regular churchgoer. More importantly to me, it seems that he embodies the Christian vices rather than the Christian virtues,” said Swietek, who, with a laugh, added that the only virtue UD students could possibly learn from Trump is temperance with alcohol.
Swietek said he disliked Trump even before he was president due to the way he carried himself as a “shady businessman.” He questions why UD students support Trump.
“I think it’s bothersome that people at a Catholic or Christian institution would so easily support a man who doesn’t represent the virtues that we customarily think as Christian,” said Swietek.
On the other hand, Van Duyne, who is now running for Congress, believes Trump has been good for college students.
“If you graduated from college during the previous president, there [were] fewer job opportunities, lower pay, and a more difficult work environment,” wrote Van Duyne in an email. “Now, because of the competitive job market, college graduates can look forward to a much greater variety of job opportunities, higher starting salaries, and greater lifetime earnings.”
Nevertheless, Swietek disapproves of Trump’s character.
“Even if you disagreed with people politically, you could admire them because of the way how they handled themselves, carried themselves,” said Swietek. “And that’s completely gone with Trump.
Though Swietek and Van Duyne hold different views on Trump, they both advise students to inform themselves.