Almost 1,000 protest president-elect Trump's victory in rally, vigil on Diag

Protestors mourn the fact that Donald Trump was elected U.S. president on the Diag Wednesday.

Protestors mourn the fact that Donald Trump was elected U.S. president on the Diag Wednesday. Buy this photo
Amanda Allen/ Daily

 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 8:05pm

Both a vigil and anti-Trump rally were held Wednesday night in protest of President-elect Donald Trump’s unexpected win in the Diag, drawing a crowd of nearly 1,000 University of Michigan students, faculty and staff, as well as community members.

The vigil featured both student speakers and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel. Speakers called for perseverance during the next four years of Trump’s term, discussing both the fear felt by minority students on campus and the importance of action.

LSA senior Nicole Khamis opened the vigil by recounting conversations with her parents, who are Palestinian refugees, the morning after Election Day.

“We came here for a better life and last night, I woke up at 2:30 to the election results,” she said. “I thought it was a dream. And I called my parents, they could see that my eyes are red because I had been tearing up. … And (my mother) looked at me and said, ‘This is not the end.’ ”

University president Mark Schlissel speaks to protestors at the vigil for Donal Trumps election in the Diag on Wednesday.

University president Mark Schlissel speaks to protestors at the vigil for Donal Trumps election in the Diag on Wednesday. Buy this photo
Sam Mousigian/ Daily

 

Throughout his campaign, Trump has criticized President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s policy of allowing more Syrian refugees to enter the country. Trump's immigration plan details an end to letting a number of groups into the United States, and in February Trump claimed he would look at Syrian children and tell them they could not enter the country.

“Are we going to stand up in the face of racism, in the face of sexism, in the face of xenophobia?” Khamis asked the cheering crowd. “My parents have escaped a war to have a better life for me and my two siblings. And we did not come to this country for this.”

In his remarks, Schlissel congratulated University students for waiting in lines and voting, stating that student voices were 90-10 in favor of a candidate other than Trump. Earlier today, he penned an email to students urging them to be inclusive and work toward intellectual honesty in their conversations.

“Ninety percent of you rejected the kind of hate and the fractiousness and the longing for some kind of idealized version of a non-existent yesterday that was expressed during the campaign,” Schlissel said during the event. “So I urge you, continue your advocacy and your voices are already being heard. They are loud and clear — this is the way America changes. It’s the way it always changes. It’s the way it will change for the better.”

According to USA Today exit polls, 56 percent of voters nationwide ages 18 to 24 voted for Clinton. There are no age-based exit polls specifically for Ann Arbor, but Michigan Daily surveys of students in the leadup to the election indicated a strong campus preference for Clinton at about 70 percent.

At the rally, similar sentiments were expressed. Business junior Myles Hawkins said he felt shock after finding out the results of the election, and that he came to the rally to gain a sense of comfort about the situation.

“(As an) African American, it’s hard to fathom Donald Trump being my president because he (has) no respect for my background, and it’s shocking to have gone from the first Black president, which was celebrated in my family … to a person who doesn’t seem to care about (them) or my culture,” he said.

The rally emphasized solidarity and began with a chant: “The people united will never be divided,” that progressively grew into a unified roar.

Speakers at both the vigil and the rally also emphasized the need to take action moving forward. In remarks at the vigil, CSG President David Schafer, an LSA senior, asked all individuals in the crowd to hold others accountable for discriminatory actions. He said minority students have had to be the ones responsible for calling out hate speech in the past, citing an incident last semester when Muslim students were the ones to wash off anti-Islamophobic chalk drawings on the Diag.

Protestors stage a vigil, after Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, on the Diag on Wednesday.

Protestors stage a vigil, after Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, on the Diag on Wednesday. Buy this photo
Sam Mousigian/ Daily

 

“To all that have been targeted or marginalized: You have a place on this campus,” he said. “The University of Michigan is yours just as much as anybody else’s. Don’t stop challenging each other. So I am challenging everyone here tonight who professes to be an ally — whenever you hear a microaggression, whenever you hear an act of discrimination and bigotry or injustice perpetrated by one of your friends or anyone of your acquaintances, step up and challenge them. Because if you don’t, you are part of the problem.”

LSA senior Tina Al-khersan told the crowd at the vigil several stories about her younger brother being asked if he had bombs underneath his coat in a response to Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, which has included statements about deporting Muslims due to their possibly being terrorists

Speaking before Al-khersan, University alum Harleen Kaur said she felt afraid for her life the day after Trump’s win.

“I simply ask for you to not be comfortable as we have after violence and tragedy countless times before,” Kaur said. “Do not let yourself be destroyed by fear but do not let yourself be wooed into calm. There’s work to be done.”

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Multiple speakers at both the vigil and rally told the crowd they had the right to feel sadness about the election result, calling it a confirmation that the country does not support minorities.

At the vigil, Khamis said her family has not traveled to the United States only to be deported.

“We need to organize, we need to mobilize,” she said. “Remember this is not a new fight for my family, this is not a new fight for women, this is not a new fight for Latina/Latino, this is not a new fight for the LGBT+ community. This has been happening forever. But now we know that it has been institutionalized to the point it is in the White House.”

Earlier in the night at the rally, Public Policy graduate student Sundar Sharma expressed similar sentiments.

“(We must) grieve and rebuild … especially because of the forces trying to stop us,” Sharma said. “Trump and Trumpism isn’t going to be around forever.”

LSA senior Adedolapo Adeniji, whose parents are both immigrants to the United States, told the vigil crowd she was not going to stop fighting — and asked fellow students to do the same.

“I don’t care what the election said today,” she said. “I don’t care what it says in the next four years. I refuse to stop fighting not because of my family of immigrants who have nobody to fight for them, not just for me for the people for look like me, for the people who don’t look like me, for the people who have visible differences.”

LSA junior Darian Razdar asked for help from white students in particular to become allies.

“White, straight, cisgendered students, it’s the time for you to show up for your loved ones,” he said. “Don’t fall to the silence of a racist and homophobic society,” he said. “Be there for those of us who need it.”

Ford senior Thomas Hislop, a vigil attendee, said while he grew up in a Republican house, his family does not agree at all with Trump’s ideology.

“I grew up in a house of love,” he said. “I grew up in a house where it was more important to care about marginalized people than about your marginal taxes.”

Many students said they felt energized by the vigil and the rally, as well as unity with those were also scared about the future of the country. School of Music Theatre & Dance freshman Nina Renella said the vigil allowed her to have a more positive space to express how she felt.

“I really just wanted to be surrounded by love… I feel like I have been very sad and despaired all day,” she said. “And as a person of color, I feel very threatened and shaken to the core. I am an immigrant, so I just wanted to be surrounded by love.”

Echoing Renenlla, LSA junior Michael Miller said students needed to become more organized and continue to support each other.

“While today was a very emotional day, we need to come together like we did tonight,” he said. “We need to come together for the future. Despite the election, despite all of the hatred, we need to make that happen.”

Many students also expressed the fear and frustration they felt for friends and family who could be affected by the election’s outcome, as well as with how the electoral process works, throughout the vigil.

LSA junior Dale Mallete said while he feared what it would create, he had to accept the process that led to Trump’s win.

“The fact that I know LGBT friends and family and all of the people that I know that could be affected by this — it leaves a terrible feeling in my gut that sort of been there all day,” Mallete said. “So I am kind of disappointed that this is the route that America decided to go with. But ultimately I need to respect the democratic process and have to accept the results of the election.

For some students, however, the events left something to desire. 

LSA junior Remi Murrey said she was upset with the lack of mentions of Black lives, emphasizing that she feels Black lives have been consistently excluded in both national and campuswide dialogues.

“Our lives matter just as much as Muslim lives, Latina/Latinx lives, and LGBT lives,” she said. “We are constantly fighting our lives and our lives are being taken from us for however long. We have to see Donald Trump as the President of the United States and that is messed up. I understand that he had made threats against everyone’s community but we are just as affected as everyone else in this country that we live in.”

“Again, I don’t matter. Not in this campus, not in this country, not in this world…(God) has pushed my ancestors for many years and he is going to push me for the next four to eight years.”