Syracuse University held a Rally for Refugees on Thursday in support of those affected by President Trump’s recent executive orders. The march attracted approximately 100 students who heard from speakers about how the new president has impacted them.

The rally happened in the wake of an executive order President Trump issued last week, which bars refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and prohibits all citizens of seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. A federal judge has since halted the order, and has been met with criticism by President Trump.  

Arva Hassonjee, a sophomore at Syracuse University, helped organize the event. She told Fresh U the march was organized out of people’s frustration with the administration. According to Arva, the rally provided an opportunity for refugees and immigrants living in fear to hear messages of acceptance within the community.

“Today, one of the speakers revealed to me that her 12-year-old daughter thought everyone hated them and after seeing how many people showed up at the rally she was comforted,” Arva said.

Katie Ellsweig, a sophomore, also helped organize the event as part of the Syracuse University chapter of Democracy Matters, and she was pleased with the turnout.

I think that as a community it is our job to band together and stand up for everyone within our community especially when they are threatened and vulnerable,” she said.

Katie said she hopes the rally is just the first step to influencing change in the Syracuse University community.

We as a community have to stand up to this islamophobia and show that it is not acceptable and we will not allow it to dictate the direction of our nation,” Katie said. “On a small scale, we have to protect everyone that we can and this event and the actions that will follow are but one step.

Alexis Rinck, a senior involved in the rally, saw the potential within the community as a result of the event.

So many people came to march but also sat down and listened to Middle Eastern, Muslim and refugee voices and stories,” Alexis said. “I think SU has a lot of budding activists. People are upset and confused – coming to a protest can be a form of healing.

Nedda Sarshar, a senior at Syracuse University, was invited to speak at the event because she is directly affected by the recent restrictions due to her Iranian heritage.

“I think it brought students, faculty, staff, and members of the University because what is happening is not okay – and I think they understand that protests and petitions are the language of democracy," Nedda said. "And when we’re under a system that is consistently oppressing – it’s what we need to turn to.”

The rally has given Nedda some positivity in the midst of a seemingly bleak situation.

“I love this university, and…I know that there are people here who love me, so I honestly was not surprised by that turn out,” Nedda said, “because it was just confirmation that people around me care about me and other people like me, and they show up when I need them.”

Lead Image Credit: Liam McMonagle