Editor’s Note: As the inauguration of the USA’s 45th president draws near, I thought it would be prudent to revisit an article I wrote for the University of Illinois on how our campus reacted to election day.
On November 8th, 2016, our country stood divided as Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. Across our campus, many sat in front of their screens in stunned silence as the results rolled out in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Many took to tears and tequila shots. Still, many others celebrated as their choice candidate took his victory lap. This election has brought up a theme of division more than once, and that long night highlighted the disconnect in our country and in our campus.
However, while those opposed to Trump might have lost the election, they were far from defeated. Marches, protests, and solidarity events have been happening across campus for the last ten days in protest of our president-elect and the arguably outrageous propositions made during his campaign. The Mexican Student Association organized a “Not My President” rally that took place on November 11th, 2016, where over 300 protesters marched toward Alma to voice their resistance against Trump. Their event had almost 2,000 shares on Facebook and was described to be a show of solidarity against “xenophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, racism, homophobia, violence, transphobia, and overall acts.”
Chants, posters, and passionate speakers populated the main quad and Green street during the nearly three-hour event. The rallying cry heard through the march was, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” Those in attendance described the event as really empowering, thanks to the diversity of attendants and the strong feeling of support extended between each of them. “People keep thinking these protests are just because we are sore losers, but rather they are to show people that during the next four years we stand in solidarity and not accept bigotry, racism, sexism, hatred, etc,” junior Taylor Breiter said, “We were all just glad to be there and marching with people who believe in love over hate.”
Love trumping hate appeared to be a common message among the protesters. Everyone there had different concerns about Trumps’ future reign, but they were united as one force. Cassandra Masters, also a junior, said, “I attended the protest as a sign of solidarity and to protest the bigoted demagogue who will be our next president. As a woman, I was also fighting for reproductive justice and rights, showing support for sexual assault survivors, and fighting for the idea that intersectional feminism is not some radical, far-left ideology but rather something that will move our society forward and must be recognized.”
Along with the MSA rally, other solidarity events have been hosted in the post-election days. One such event, rumored to be hosted by an Illini dance group, was held on the quad on November 10th, 2016. Students lined up on the quad and sung “Keep loving, keep fighting” while they took turns dancing down the middle and cheering each other on. Breiter said, “Both of these events definitely lifted my spirits and made me realize my feelings were valid, I wasn’t alone, and that I am happy to be on a campus where so many believe in the same things I do.”
Not everyone is interested in showing solidarity, however, and these events are taking place in contrast to darker rumblings. An unconfirmed tweet from a UIUC student claimed that a Trump supporter pulled a knife on a Muslim girl on a bus. The tweet went viral soon after it was made, but the allegations haven’t been confirmed by the police department (as no official report was filed with them). Whether or not this actually happened is speculation, but many students are legitimately fearful for their safety in the years to come.
This victory is highly controversial and all eyes are on the president-elect as we wait to see what his legacy will be. No matter your feelings on our future president, safety should be everyone’s top priority in these times. If you are ever the victim or witness of violence, please don’t hesitate to report the incident to your local police department.
Photos courtesy of: Jeff Bossert/Illinois public media, Taylor Breiter, Twitter