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“Queer without fear!” “Palestine and Mexico—all the walls have got to go!” “My body, my choice!” “No Dakota pipeline—protect the sacred land!” “Water for Flint!” “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
These messages were among the chants yelled and signs held by student protestors marching campus yesterday. Though diverse in their objectives, all the student voices participating in the rally were united in one cause — “Dump Trump.”
A week after Donald Trump was announced the president-elect of the United States, Montclair State University students gathered for their second protest since the election results were announced, marching around campus during common hour to make their voices heard.
“We brought all of our ideas together and we connected,” said Marissa Marillo, one of the organizers of the protest. “Basically, we’re anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-misogynistic. We’re pro-choice, pro-immigration reform, pro-Black Lives Matter. All of the causes, we’re bringing them together to unite Montclair. We want to accomplish unity and solidarity.”
As the protestors gathered at the amphitheater at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, practicing their chants and preparing to march around campus, a lone supporter of the new president-elect stood up and made his voice heard.
“Donald Trump will save us all!” cried Benjamin, a computer science major who preferred not to share his last name. He held a picture of Trump above his head as he yelled, “Make America great again!”
An organizer of the protest responded to the outlier and addressed the crowd, saying, “If we get any pro-Trump instigators, please ignore them. Our message is greater.”
“I’m worried about my rights as a woman and I’m also worried about the rights of all my friends who are women, part of the LGBTQ community, people of color. I’m here for myself and I’m here for them,” said Bailee Gilbert, a senior theatre studies major. Her voice was all but drowned out by chants of “we reject the president-elect” by her fellow protestors.
As the group of about 100 students marched toward the Student Center Quad, with three police officers trailing behind to monitor the safety of all involved, Benjamin—the lone Trump supporter—began to attract a following.
“None of this is going to make a difference,” said Chris, a criminal justice major who preferred not to share his last name, about the protests. “It’s basically sabotage of the progress that we’re trying to accomplish. If anyone’s going to destroy the country, it’s going to be literally by the hands of these protestors who are gathering en masse—not just on campuses, but also in metropolitan cities. This is just a heinous act of immaturity in my subjective opinion.”
After explaining that his parents both immigrated legally to America, Chris continued, “When Donald Trump said he wants to put a wall, it wasn’t indicative of him blocking off all Latino immigrants from the United States. The wall was specifically intended to be built upon the principle that you cannot just trespass unlawfully through another country. That is not a concept of racism. That is not a concept of ethnocentrism.”
Chris’s opinion did not represent the majority, however, as the protestors continued to gain traction as the marched from the Student Center to the Blanton Hall Quad, chanting “Hands too small—can’t build a wall!”
According to data released by the Passaic County Clerk, Hillary Clinton received 576 votes from students who voted in the Machuga Heights polling site, while Trump received only 150.
“I think every race matters,” said Dante Fletcher, a physical education major watching the protest from a nearby bench. “I’m black myself so, to be honest, I don’t think he should be in office. I agree with everything they’re saying.”
The anti-Trump protestors formed a circle in the Blanton Hall quad, making the center a stage for individual speakers to voice their emotional speeches, spoken word and plans of action for change. Among these speakers was Alexander Alvarez, a junior finance major and a part of the affirmative action committee at Montclair State. He shared two proposals which he has been working to accomplish on campus: a mural portraying the diverse student body of the university and an updated curriculum which reflects that diversity.
“I personally feel we should have something on this campus in light of the recent political issues, to represent that we are a unified campus,” said Alvarez, “that we have something we can be proud of to show incoming students and parents that this is a safe space for a wide variety of different cultures on this campus.”
About a dozen Trump supporters stood around the edges of the circle, some wearing Trump-Pence clothing, others holding signs and one posing shirtless with “Trump 2016” painted on his chest.
“I’m tired of being told who I have to like, who I have to vote for because I’m of a certain demographic,” said C.J., a sophomore business major who grew up in Irvington. “I have to vote for a democrat because I’m black? Fuck that. No. America could not afford Hillary Clinton being president. We could not because all it would show is that we will tolerate someone who can—we will let somebody get away with crimes just because they are of a ‘marginalized group.’ Because she is a woman, nobody calls her on her shit. Because Obama is black, nobody calls him on his shit.”
As the protest came to a close around 4 p.m., protestors hugged each other, and pro- and anti-Trump students discussed hosting an open forum where individuals of every political opinion can express themselves.