Campus, community protest critical of post election atmosphere, President-elect Trump
Chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho hate speech has got to go” and “say it now say it clear, immigrants are welcome here,” echoed throughout campus Tuesday as about 300 students and community members marched to Warriner Hall.
Taking part in the Central Michigan Action’s Stop Hate and Walkout protest, people met in front of Anspach Hall around noon to gather to protest “what comes after the election,” said Jon Arlt, an organizer of the event.
“We wanted to give voice to the fear and anger people have, which is based in factual reality,” said Arlt, a fixed-term faculty member in the sociology, anthropology and social work department. “We also wanted to use this as an opportunity to thank President (George) Ross for his words of support to students, and to urge him to work with us to make sure hate crimes don’t happen at CMU.”
Central Michigan Action has “several, concrete steps” it wants to execute moving forward, Arlt said. These include keeping an eye out for hate speech and actions on campus and providing safe spaces for students to express their concerns about the political climate following the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Arlt wasn’t the only faculty member present at the demonstration. Carolyn Dunn, associate vice president of the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Damon Brown, director of Student Activities and Involvement and Sherry Knight, associate vice president for University Communications were also in attendance.
Knight said this was the biggest on-campus protest she’s seen in her five years of working at the university.
“(This university) fully upholds the freedom of speech,” she said. “We have an office on campus — the Office of Institutional Equity — which was created in the 70s. We were one of the first universities in the nation really dedicated to civil rights and protecting against discrimination. We’ve had a long-standing commitment to that and nothing (since then) has changed.”
The protest was only interrupted one time, near the end, by a student running through the speaking area yelling “Trump 2016.” Student protestors shouted back, yelling back “love trumps hate” until he could no longer be heard.
Detroit sophomore Jordan Dowery said the size of the protest showed him that “people really cared about minorities” on campus. As a black man, he was angered at sexist and racist actions going on around the country but said it was great to see not just members of the black community protest, but white allies as well.
Other students of color echoed Dowery’s sentiments.
“I’m out here because I’m scared for my family, friends and fellow students,” said Detroit junior Saceila Gonzalez. “(Trump) is threatening to (deport) members of my family. He’s threatening to take away my friends’ right to marriage. It’s disgusting.”
Gonzalez spent a portion of the protest speaking about her experience as a Latina in “Trump’s America.” She also passed out plastic flowers with messages of peace and harmony written on them.
Former students stopped by to participate in the protest as well. An alumna from 1975, Mount Pleasant resident Mary Irvine said she participated in anti-Vietnam War protests on campus during her time as a student.
She said this level of student mobilization was “very heartening.”
“A lot of things have really been a kick in the butt,” she said. “It’s important for students to remember to not lose heart and to not give up. This shows me the beginning of the heartbeat for this movement.”
Throughout the protest, Arlt reminded those in attendance to remain peaceful and to be mindful of their surroundings. He, along with several volunteers with Central Michigan Action, passed out papers which outlined how to have a successful, non-violent protest.
Some students like Kevin Goodwin were not sold on the group’s self-proclaimed message of peace. He attended the protest because he had never been to one before. The Traverse City freshman wondered if the event was going to be as rambunctious as he had seen on TV.
Standing off to the side in a “TRUMP 2016” T-shirt, Goodwin said he was embarrassed for his fellow students and community members who came to the event.
“All these people out here — we call them adults — they’re just out here complaining and crying because they didn’t get their way. It’s sad to see,” he said. “They have nothing better to do than to come out and support the party that lost. It’s pointless.
“The election is over and the decision has been made.”