Students of all backgrounds coming together to peacefully protest at UCrossing. (Christopher Romano/Connector)
At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, students formed in front of University Crossing for a protest sparked by the results of the presidential election on Nov. 8. President-elect Donald Trump has brought out many emotions in people all across the nation due to what many people view as implications and amplifications of racism, sexism, islamophobia and bigotry. Two UMass Lowell biology students, Vicki Kurker and Sabrina Pedersen, organized a Power Walkout protest in response to the election.
UMass Lowell students, along with several other campuses across the United States, walked out of class as part of a movement called Sanctuary Campus. The nationwide protests were designed to get universities involved in protecting people who could be affected negatively by Trump’s policies and rhetoric. A complete list of the demands for the school was posted online in a document shared nationwide for protestors.
Students on campus were handed flyers for their professors that read: “Dear Professor, I am walking out of class not to be disrespectful to you or what I am learning. I am concerned about climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, minority races, other marginalized groups, and the future of this nation.”
When asked what the goals of the protest were, Kurker said, “We want to make sure the school is a sanctuary for undocumented students and their families, and that we welcome Muslim immigrants. The university must double its commitment to reject racial harassment, to protect students of color along with LGBTQ students and to continue funding climate change research and education despite what the incoming presidential administration thinks on the subject.”
Kurker continued about climate change saying, “Trump himself is a climate denier. He has decided to promote another very active climate change skeptic to the head of the EPA as part of the transition. In his first 100 days of presidency, he is planning to defund or enact over 25 climate change laws.” When asked if there was something that could be done regarding climate change in the next presidential election, Kurker said, “There is no time for hesitation in this aspect.”
As more students and faculty began to arrive to the protest, individual students shared stories, thoughts, anecdotes and ways to move forward under a Trump presidency. Over a dozen students spoke—some speaking multiple times—trying to get their message across about how the election of Donald Trump affects Americans. Niyah West, a senior music business student, instructed the crowd to reach out to elected officials to let them know Americans are unhappy with Trump’s policies and rhetoric. After students finished speaking, faculty members took hold of the megaphone to speak about their discontent for the election as well.
Chad Montrie, a history professor at UMass Lowell, was the first faculty member to speak during the protest. He expressed his pride in the students protesting the election. He then said: “Trump didn’t win the election. He lost the popular vote by over a million votes.”
José Mendoza and Adrian Cruz, two UMass Lowell professors, gave their thoughts to the crowd as well. Montrie reached out to the small group of Trump supporters attempting to protest the anti-Trump protest, reminding them that Trump’s climate change denial will affect all people. Although the Trump supporters were few, they showed a large display of affection for their newly elected president.
The student led protest lasted no longer than an hour and a half and was concluded peacefully following Pedersen’s remarks. Students milled around after the protest and talked to faculty about more ways to become active.
Around the nation, individuals have been wearing safety pins as a way of showing solidarity. Kurker said, “It’s more important that you are completely vocal and transparent, that you are here for people and that just because the president elect is a hateful person, just because the rest of the administration appears to be that way as well, does not mean that you are going to change.”
President-elect Trump is currently preparing to be inaugurated into the White House as president on Jan. 20, 2017.