In this time of increasing political turmoil, we should never underestimate the power students' voices have to influence our peers, campuses and communities. This statement is certainly true for the five college freshmen who co-organized the "Rally for Resistance" on the Temple University campus last Thursday.
Just one day after International Women's Day and the Day Without A Woman strike, students and citizens alike gathered at the Bell Tower at Temple University in Philadelphia for the first event for the student organization Indivisible Temple. Named after the national Indivisible movement, the student organization aims to provide students and citizens with a guide to contacting their Congress representatives and Senators as well as practical support for resisting Trump's agenda. The Rally for Resistance's specific purpose was to unite students and community members behind this common resistance.
The event drew a crowd of approximately 100 people and featured both student speakers and renowned speakers such as Lindy Li, the youngest female Congressional candidate; as well as Billy Fleming, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and co-writer of the national Indivisible Guide. The event was highlighted through numerous social media outlets and received an outpouring of public support, notably from well-known figures in Philadelphia and Congressional representatives.
The event's success is attributable to the five Temple University freshmen who co-organized the event: Alex Mark -- who developed the idea for the Rally for Resistance and Indivisible Temple -- as well as Benjamin Aitoumeziane, Jacob Kurtz, Tyler Lum, and yours truly -- Amanda Morrison. Numerous hours were spent contacting potential speakers; garnering sponsorships from student organizations; inviting students, professors and community members to take part in the event; and contacting news sources to ensure the details of the event were broadcasted to local groups. The four male students who co-organized the rally all offered their thoughts on what it felt like to plan the event:
Alex Mark, Global Studies major:
"The day of the first Muslim Ban, I knew we had reached the point where campus action was crucial. We're the young people. We're the ones who are supposed to care so much. The only thing missing was a collective organization to really channel our energy. We wanted to give the resistance and the campus something new that could really last. So that's where the rally came in. The first few weeks, it was simply an idea. We met weekly to figure out how we could actually make it happen. Then we created the Facebook event, and we sent out emails to several organizations on campus. No one responded for a week, but eventually FMLA and Bridge TU replied. Defend Our Future came on board shortly after. From there, our resources and support skyrocketed. The Facebook event gathered more and more support each day. Now that we're here, it truly is surreal. I still believe we need to be careful about not letting this energy dissipate, but for now, we've got a hell of a movement."
Benjamin Aitoumeziane, Political Science major:
"Planning this rally has truly been a fun and humbling experience. I have a new found appreciation for rally organizers. The work and careful thought that goes into planning something like this is no easy task. I can't wait to take the lessons I've learned into the future with me to organize more political events."
Jacob Kurtz, Community Development major:
"Organizing this rally has been one of the most exhausting yet rewarding experiences of my life. I remember the day Alex first invited me to be a part of the rally ... After I heard his pitch I was hooked, getting to take part in something like this isn't a common occurrence (if I get my way it will become more common). For me to get the chance to serve as a leading organizer for a large scale rally and connect with numerous speakers and know that I was moving from just being a participant to being an actual organizer was incredible. While it was incredible, that didn't mean it was effortless. There have been a lot of hiccups on the way to today, from long email chains to logistical difficulties. What I always came back to was the reason we were doing what we were doing: to fight, to stand up, to resist. Those kept me running, even when midterms started to loom in the future, and I felt like I was drowning in work. I kept going because I do believe America can get better, but only through resistance."
Tyler Lum, Political Science major:
"I was asked to be on the Rally for Resistance team before we as a team even decided what we were trying to accomplish. Benjamin approached me ... [because] he knew I wasn't happy with the results from November 8. As an optimistic liberal I hoped that Donald Trump was a man of words, and not a man of action. Unfortunately, we've seen with atrocious executive orders and cabinet picks that President Trump isn't a man who stands to protect American ideals, the American middle class, or America's international reputation. The need for a student planned rally increased with every day Trump held office, and so we continued to create a message. As our ideas for an event grew, so did our team. Ranging from support form individuals, to student organizations created a buzz around campus as we solidified a date, gathered speakers, and invited friends. I felt fortunate to have a strong team of 4 driven individuals to rely on as the events logistics expanded. With over 100 people saying they're going to the event and over 400 people saying they're interested on Facebook, the Rally became more of a reality, and a reality that was larger than I had originally imagined. I am excited to rally with students who stand for a better, more equal America regardless of the President. Students who are indivisible for the simple reason that are we Americans who believe in freedom, equality, and diversity, and will stand against others who challenge those values, including President Trump."
Fresh U also caught up with three co-organizers and several Rally for Resistance attendees to ask them to describe the event in either one word or one sentence. Their responses are as follows:
"The rally was uplifting." Jacob Kurtz, Rally co-organizer
"I feel hopeful." Jordan Laslett, Temple University sophomore and Rally speaker
"I feel educated and empowered." Kerri Little, Temple University freshman
"Inspired to action." -Benjamin Aitoumeziane, Rally co-organizer
"I feel empowered." -Abbie Turrisi, Temple University freshman
"Now we take action." -Alex Mark, Rally co-organizer
Personally, planning this rally with my four co-organizers taught me just how integral students' voices are in the political realm and how much we truly can make a difference. Planning the event was harder work than I expected it to be, but it was also extremely rewarding. Indivisible Temple is thankful for the endless support of the Rally for Resistance, and we are excited to see where the next years take us.
After all, resistance plus persistence equals progress. We are the next generation of leaders in American politics, and it is our responsibility to continue the resistance so that America can become truly indivisible.
Editor's Note: Some comments have been edited for clarity.
Lead Image Credit: Angelo Abis