Earlier today, University of Rochester students coordinated a peaceful demonstration, Not My America, to showcase their frustrations and concerns with the new president-elect and what comes with it. Not only was there a calm in the crowd, but multiple news stations showed up to the event as well, such as News 8 WROC Rochester and the like.
This video from Sophomore Ethan Warren is a small clip of some of the demonstration itself. Throughout the entirety of the video, the chant, "Love Trumps Hate," is heard. When asked about the protest and thoughts on having it, Sophomore Annie Carver had a few things to say about it:
I think it's important to get our voices out there, obviously they knew we weren't going to be happy if he [Donald Trump] won. But, not becoming complacent is really important when you're faced with something you're not happy about. It just boils down to having a voice. It's about making voices heard. And, I mean, staying open minded is important. If half the group is opposed ot working for the progress, you're not going to get anywhere. If you're the side that wants progress, you want to be able to compromise to make those changes.
Later that day, she posted on Facebook, writing about the event after it had taken place. Fresh U asked to take her words and use them in here, in hopes of inspiration for others:
Today was not about #NotMyPresident by #NotMyAmerica. It was about bringing physicality to our passion and our message: we will not tolerate a hateful America. We will meet it with love, understanding, dialogue, and unity. Today was a promise. Today was a beginning. Today was hope.
Throughout the event, chants regarding being united and about love were heard overall, but there were also a lot of speakers at this event. Not just students either. Adults, teachers and the like showed their faces at this demonstration to not just talk about their own issues but issues they see with America, how politically skewed a lot of this election has been and how the Rochestarian community feels about the president-elect.
This event popped up on Facebook shortly after the election on Tuesday night. While most people had nothing but nice things to say on the event, one computer science professor made a statement that negatively impacted a lot of the students that planned on attending.
While the number of likes or emotions considered is small, this post ended up being deleted, and eventually caused a delivery of multiple posts from the same professor apologizing for his behavior as well as sending out a mass email to his students. CARE Reports at the U of R were filed against him, and the argument over his statement have only continued. Brendan Stone, a Freshman at the U of R said the following about the incident and the election itself:
I've only seen once instance since the election that particularly concerned me on this campus. I think the backlash has been a little much, but at the same time, his comment, on that event, and the atmosphere on campus, has changed since the election. People are taking it very personally, but I'm not exactly sure how personal Trump's politics can get. I know he's said awful things, but a lot of his promises can't be achieved from the office of the president alone. Takes a lot of bureaucracy to accomplish that.
Senior Coco Huang, had different things to say about the comment about similar comments that were posted on Wednesday and Thursday. Her concerns fell over her equality rights, and what could get taken away from her:
I was concerned about equality rights. I was generally concerned over my own self-planned future, the future of the group that I'm representing. If minority rights aren't demonstrated, such as those I'm a part of, such as gay marriage rights, or others as little as having respect towards those who are disabled, those rights are going to get taken away.
The event took place at noon on Friday, but only after a lot of concern with it being Veterans Day. A lot of adults were concerned that this would not be a good idea, due to the day meant to be in thanks for those who have served us. One of the coordinators, Annie Forestiere, a Junior, stated that it's not necessarily about Veteran's day, but rather, about noticing what's going on in this country:
Regardless of anything, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, there is a huge divide in the country and this campus because the campaign was fueled by hatred. We're grieving in whatever we feel is the best way to heal, but we need to not be so attack oriented. It's not even about policy, it's about physical well-being.
Annie also revealed a lot about the demonstration as a coordinator, and why this event was so important to have on campus:
The goal is to have everyone to be able to feel supported and to feel like they have an outlet. We know there are a lot of people who are upset justifiably because they're feeling more controlled, and saying, "Hey, this is not what I want." This election was different because it it hasn't just triggered anger. One side is happy, and one side is afraid and that's a huge difference in this election. I don't want to be afraid of my friends losing rights and I don't want to be afraid of myself losing my culture to someone who is openly sexist. We want people to feel stronger because they see people who support them and that they're not alone. I want them to feel better about the situation and I hope that it can help.
During the event, lots and lots of love was spread. This then live video from Caleb Krieg, a Junior, gives an example of what happened on campus today:
Not only were the conversations interesting, but the event itself brought forth some people that the coordinators had not expected to bring forwards. Students in Trump/Pence shirts showed up to show their support, held signs with others, mingled among the crowd to show that the minority - if you can call it that - is not alone. Sophomore Justin Delinois found the demonstration itself powerful, and talked to Fresh U about the reasons he went to the demonstration:
It unites an entire group of people who are in a constant threat going into the future. Large groups of undocumented people, religious people, every type of minority of people, are going to be living in constant fear that at any moment they could be oppressed in our country. It shows that we are united, and internally, we got it going on, while externally we are falling apart and crumbling. I'm a black man in America. We have someone in a position of power, who refuses to acknowledge our humanity who will be in the White House. He has a congress that is at his will. I will longer be able to be as "free as I am."
Overall, the comments made about the demonstration were positive, with little to no negative backlash resulting. Justin continued to comment about what he got out of it personally:
Personally, I took away that we are growing. I feel, definitely, that this election has shone a spotlight on a negative aspect of our country and I feel as though more people – white people – are starting to pay attention to these dire issues that we've been talking about for decades. I think what the campus needs to do as a model for the rest of the world is to unite and blur these lines as black, as women, as muslim, etc., and realize we are one community fighting for one goal, and that's freedom. We need to do that as a community instead of as individual communities trying to achieve it.
Ligia Gonzalez, another attendee of the demonstration, was asked by Fresh U what she thought would be the best way for the campus to move forward. After taking a little bit of time, it came to her.
As a person, I'm part of the LGBTQ+ community. I'm hispanic. I get funds from the government. I'm a woman. These things that come from my community are what trigger me to support each part of who I am. And I've gained a community where I feel like I now have a safe space. We just need to keep being active, and supporting people. Asking people, "how are you? How are you feeling?" Seeing any forms of attack, and speaking up, telling who we can. We have to be cautious about what is going on. We just need to be supportive of each other. We don't hate Trump supporters, we don't hate Trump. We [hate] the prejudice, the sexism, the racism, that comes with it. The hate that's done onto people. We're trying to fight for love. We just need to continue with that path.
After about an hour and a half, the crowd dispersed and continued on in their every day Friday afternoon lives. But, this demonstration is only the first of many. There are so many more to follow, according to the coordinators on the Facebook event. Until then, this has been a stepping stone on the Rochester campus in finding peace in the election. Senior Ayisha Nuhu leaves with one statement in the progress for this new movement: "My voice should be heard, not just on this campus, but in society, saying that we belong here, that I belong here."
Lead Image Credit: Laura Kerrigan via Facebook