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Nov 18 2016
by Diana Pope

Anti-Trump Protests Disrupted Classes at Vanderbilt University

By Diana Pope - Nov 18 2016

This past week, protests erupted at various universities across the country to protest the recent election of Donald Trump. On Tuesday, students at Vanderbilt University organized a huge protest and decided to walk out of classes to voice dissension about the new President-elect. Participants at these Anti-Trump protests also walked on the sidewalks of Nashville, TN and briefly shut down a traffic intersection. 

Students first walked through the main campus and student center of Vanderbilt, and then proceeded to march toward 21st Avenue. As these individuals walked through the hallways of their school, they loudly chanted "Not My President" to get others' attention. Many people from surrounding schools joined in the protests as the day progressed. 

Police had to temporarily shut down 21st Avenue and redirect drivers due to the disruption on the streets from the parade. However, Nashville police chief August J. Washington noted that the protests did not cause any prominent issues on Tuesday. 

Even though these protests caused some conflict among city residents, many students supported the demonstrations, and believed that these protests were a fair display of disagreement with Donald Trump. Fresh U interviewed various college students from the Nashville area about how they felt about the protests, and here's what they had to say: 

Zander Alley, Vanderbilt University, Class of 2020

I was proud to see such a large and diverse group marching in solidarity. I was happy that Vanderbilt students and administration so strongly advocated for an inclusive community, as it made me personally feel more welcome and supported on campus. They contradicted what I used to think about Southern schools generally being closeminded. Even though the idea of protesting against the election of a president may be hard for some people to swallow, knowing that so many people were eager to protest makes me feel that Vanderbilt is truly dedicated to supporting different communities of people.

Abby Ayers, Vanderbilt University, Class of 2020

I'm supportive of the protests. The ones on Vanderbilt's campus have been peaceful and non-aggressive, so I don't see anything wrong with it. They're just students making their voices heard about injustices that they believe have been escalated by the election of a candidate who undeniably encouraged divisive behavior throughout the election season. I personally felt proud of the activism of my peers; they were not disrespectful, but instead came together with a message of acceptance and love .....There are many who voted for the winning candidate who are now objecting to the protests. However, they must accept the fact that much of what people are protesting against is a direct result of that candidate's campaign. After the election, racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim harassment has escalated....As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." The protests were an effective display of Americans, particularly younger generations who represent the future of this nation, standing against something they see as an incorrect representation of American principles.....To be most effective, students should now go out and be proactive - they must prove that they actually care enough about what they're protesting to want to change things. If they really want to make a difference, they must become more involved by voting in local elections, advocating for matters they care about, and living out in their daily lives the kindness/acceptance that they claim is the foundation of their protests.

Caitlyn Henneberry, Belmont University, Class of 2019

I think these protests were just an inconvenience at their worst. None of the students involved were violent at any point, and they briefly stopped traffic on West End at their most inconveniencing point. I think it's wonderful that we have the right to protest and I completely support those students who chose to let their opinions be known. I'm very glad that none of the protesters at Vanderbilt became violent at any point...

The protests at Vanderbilt have been recognized for their sheer impact by other college students across the country. Students at Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College also had strong opinions about the outcome of these protests: 

*Anonymous, Haverford College, Class of 2020

I am happy that these protests are occurring; it testifies to the fact that we are privileged enough to live in a country where individuals can express their frustrations inside and outside of the current political system. While I do support these protests, I think it is important that we do not discount the opinions of those who did support President-elect Trump. Regardless of political opinion, Donald Trump was democratically elected. Though it is easy to characterize his supporters as racist, many Trump supporters do not espouse his polarizing language and prejudicial rhetoric, just as many Clinton supporters did not agree with every aspect of her platform. We should try to understand the causes of this election and why certain groups may feel marginalized. The working class overwhelmingly swung for Trump, while Clinton garnered much of the minority vote. We draw dichotomies between ourselves, creating and facilitating hatred of the proverbial “other.” In this charged environment, we should remember the advantages that our country affords us as well as acknowledge its flaws, remembering to listen as well as voice our opinions.

Lead Image Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr Creative Commons

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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