UMD students react to Donald Trump’s address to Congress

President Trump made his first address to a joint session of Congress, and the nation, Feb. 28.

His speech focused on unity and the common goals of the American people. He also highlighted a few of his policy plans and included various anecdotes about well-placed audience members.

The address is being regarded by many as his most presidential yet.

Positive responses to this speech did not, perhaps unsurprisingly, keep Trump from being the butt of many jokes.

“I do have to give Trump some credit, though, earlier this week he was able to speak like a human president for over an hour,” Colin Jost, co-host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update said during the March 4 show. “In fact, 78% of Americans had a positive reaction to Trump’s speech but that’s just because the bar was set at ‘read words good.’”

Despite Trump’s attempts to reach across the aisle in a speech that focused on unity and bipartisan work, some were unimpressed by his rhetoric and promises.

“What surprised me is that we really did not see anything new out of Trump. While he was oddly professional, Trump still thrives on his own arrogance,” freshman History major Bronwen Leibe said. “A successful leader should give credit where credit is due, concede when wrong and empower us as Americans. Instead his self-importance holds him back from doing so.”

The president also introduced and highlighted specific policies that he has implemented or is working on starting.

“Trump’s ‘VOICE’ proposal to regularly spotlight crimes by foreigners is worryingly similar to the race-baiting ‘Criminal Jew’ magazine of Hitler’s Germany. I was happy to see Democrats boo and Republicans sit for such a divisive and unnecessary idea,” freshman Biochemistry major Aidan Bissell-Siders said.

Trump focused a lot of his speech on  stories of everyday people that were in the audience. One that received a lot of attention was the honoring of Carryn Owens — the widow of fallen Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.

“Ryan died as he lived: A warrior, and a hero – battling against terrorism and securing our nation … Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity,” Trump said, followed by minutes of applause as Owens stood, wiping away her tears, while standing next to Ivanka Trump.

While this moment, the honoring of late Justice Anotonin Scalia, and more led to applause from the Democrats in the audience, there was a lot of resistance as well.

Many Democratic congresswomen were wearing all white in honor of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and oftentimes only half of the audience would stand in response to what was being said.

Nancy Pelosi, particularly, was quite unamused.

“Individually, Trump is not the enemy,” Leibe said. “Individually, Republicans are not the enemy. Hate is the enemy. Love, hope and united resistance are the answer. While half the room last night did not stand to join in the applause of Trump’s agenda, this is not hate. This is resistance. If we cannot challenge our leader, who else will?”