On Thursday, November 10th, two days after President-elect Donald Trump was elected into the highest office in American government, hundreds of students at the University of Tennessee participated in a protest voicing their concerns. Organized by Elizabeth Stanfield, a senior at UT, the protest was formed to create a space for people who feel frustrated or are struggling. The protest remained peaceful.
A sophomore at UT, Sarai Stanford, witnessed the protest.
"Today I saw my campus divided. I saw people who have rallied together all year to be ‘One Tennessee’ stand toe to toe with one another."
Sarai told Fresh U that many different flags, representing many different backgrounds and beliefs, were present at the protest: American flags, Trump flags, LGBTQ+ flags and a communist flag were a few. There were also many signs including signs reading "Hillary for Prison" and "Not My President."
Sarai said that her parents have always encouraged her to explore her beliefs and values, and she believes college is the best time to do this.
"I think that college is the best place to do this, to explore what YOU truly believe. Today I think most of these young adults were doing just that."
She explained that students were standing up for what they individually believed to be true, while still remaining peaceful. Sarai told Fresh U that "a few hurtful words" were exchanged, but nothing was extreme and no fights broke out.
College students and young adults can learn a lot from UT's protest. It remained peaceful, but still provided a space for those who felt they have been wronged in this election. It was not fueled by hate, but rather meant to be a place for students to express their unrest. "I think today was an example of what the founding fathers built this nation on," Sarai said.
By providing a time and place for students to find support and relief in tumultuous times, the protest at the University of Tennessee was very effective. Though they were met with opposition from Trump supporters, leaders of the protest encouraged others not to engage in violence. The UT Police Department was present, but made no arrests.
At the end of the day, Sarai explained the reasoning behind all of these protests perfectly.
"Many people feel they have been keeping quiet long enough and are no longer afraid to speak up for what they believe, we’ve seen what happens if they don’t."
Protesting is a matter of free speech. Please remember to keep protests peaceful and purposeful. College is a great time to stand up for your beliefs and engage in civic demonstrations and protests — just always make sure you're smart and safe. If you know of any protests going on at your school, tweet us @FreshUOnline.
Lead Image Credit: Amy Smotherman Burgess