Students organize anti-hate rally on campus
Shreyas ChaturvediMercury Staff
Samee AhmadMercury Staff
POSTEDNovember 18, 2016
After a polarizing election outcome last Tuesday, Kevin Barahona, a marketing junior, organized a solidarity rally on campus. It featured political and social discourse in a post-election nation.
Barahona said the event, held at the North Mall steps on Nov. 15, was organized spontaneously after he’d had time to process the election results..
“I put myself in a bubble…and I couldn’t believe that other people could think like that,” he said. “I realized that that wasn’t the right way of thinking and doing something was more important than sitting at home and doing nothing. So I just brought it out to my friends, saying ‘Do you want to help me plan this?’ and they said ‘Yes.’”
The rally, called “Our America: A Stand Against Hate,” offered a space for students to feel comfortable, dissent with the result and share their thoughts on what the future holds for them.
Maham Tirmizi, a psychology and child learning and development senior, spoke up in the rally about fostering dialogue.
“I wanted to mostly create a discussion having people remind themselves that you don’t need to be afraid to talk about stuff. It is important for everyone to speak up,” Tirmizi said.
She asserted the power of resistance and solidarity in the face of widespread opposition, which for her is conservative control of all three branches of the government.
“Even though maybe conservatives have won… we are here and we’re not afraid and we’re not going to stay complicit and they need to remember us as well,” Tirmizi said.
Rally-goers emphasized minorities’ rights, especially undocumented immigrants’ — a population which face deportation of around 13 million individuals under President-elect Donald Trump’s plan.
The rally hosted two área immigration lawyers, who were immigrants themselves. They answered questions about what the future held for immigrants in the country.
Many at the rally asked about how Trump would implement his policies. But Trump’s ambiguity on policy made the facts hard to ascertain.
“The unknown is the scariest part. We simply do not know what he will choose to do,” Dobrina Dobreva, one of the immigration lawyers at the rally, said.
Three Mexican-American students — Marleen Martinez, a healthcare studies junior, Gladys Barbosa, a biomedical engineering senior, and Tanya Alvarez, an accounting junior — who attended the rally with a Mexican flag, were appreciative of the multifaceted discourse.
“Communications like this — talking to a lawyer and hearing people with different opinions —can help calm (people’s) nerves and help people think a little bit straight of what they want to do,” said Martinez, who is also the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Barbosa, the president of the Mexican Students Association, added that post-election events like this — and the election results themselves — affected the minority communities more severely than others.
“My dad had to come here as an immigrant,” she said. “Knowing that is actually something that hits home. And I also have a few relatives that are immigrants. So, this is actually a good service for me to spread this information to friends and family who need it.”
People emphasized their dissent over the election of Trump for a variety of reasons.
“It is just unacceptable that someone so bigoted has won and is a beacon for so much hate right now,” Elizabeth Anne Paul, a literary studies freshman, said.
Adam Richards, who held up a sign, which said “Protect the First Amendment,” spoke about his fear of losing his freedom of expression under Trump.
“It is one of those things where it means being able to express myself, being able to be who I am, like as a bisexual person, it means being able to express myself as a bisexual person,” Richards said.
But some like Matthew Temple, a healthcare studies junior, came to express their dissent with the rally itself and give a voice to Trump sympathizers.
“I engaged with mainly the people that they brought up there and I thought of ideas and I asked the people up there speaking,” Temple said.
Temple did not receive a positive response to his arguments as people rebutted that the rally was not supposed to be a political debate.
“It seemed like everybody collectively didn’t like what I had to say,” Temple said.
For Temple, people at the rally were too focused on emotion.
“When you base it solely off of emotion and not the whole scheme of things how everything works, anybody who’s just based on emotion is going to get disqualified for their argument,” he said.
Tirmizi insisted Trump’s election went far beyond politics.
“I don’t really care or know about Trump. He’s our president-elect right now and that’s what happened. But I am more so than ready to get the people mobilized and ready to fight whatever he brings about when he takes office,” Tirmizi said.
The rally ended with a Socratic discussion. A megaphone was passed around for people to speak, and attendees expressed everything from concern over the safety of their families to tenuous optimism about the future.