With post-Election Day rain and fog echoing the ominous uncertainty surrounding the country’s approaching shift in power, over 100 students gathered on the Student Center quad last night to voice their opinions about the new president-elect of the United States—Donald Trump.
“It’s really sad that [America] went from having the first black president to having the biggest bigot in the country,” said Tyler Paga, treasurer of Lambda Tao Omega, the sorority which organized the gathering. “He practices what he preaches−racism, sexism, and Islamophobia.”
In the hours following the announcement of Trump’s victory, unease marked the tired faces of Red Hawks navigating the precipitation, contrasting the previous day’s energy, when many Montclair State students had been excited to vote for the first time. But on Wednesday evening, as the rain began to dissipate, students came to life. Their voices joined student protests sparked by the election across the nation—including Texas A&M University and Temple University in Philadelphia.
Huddled together, the group marched around the foggy field opposite the Student Center. They performed on each corner of the quad, facing the crowd as they recited spoken word, poems and speeches expressing how the election results affected their lives.
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“Jim Crow is the same today as it was in 1960,” said Dean Mulzac during his spoken word performance from the corner near Schmitt Hall. Students murmured in agreement and applauded his potent words.
“I think when I woke up in the morning I felt it,” said Salvatore Swain of Montclair Animal Activists, a Student Government Organization which co-sponsored the protest. “I felt this sort of heaviness, and daily conversations or just from interactions that I had throughout the day or people’s conversations that I picked up on walking down campus, you can hear the fear within their voice. People are afraid. People are concerned about our future, our government, or democracy as a whole. And I think that this was a step back, or a step forward, to bring everyone together and make them understand that we know that this is going on, but we are here together, and we are here together to make these things better.”
Dania Felix, who spearheaded protests against blackface in the Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of “Aida” last month, was also in attendance and spoke against racism and sexism to the gathered crowd.
“I wasn’t surprised in the slightest about [the election results],” said Felix. “I know the strife that was caused between putting Hillary against Trump and what they intended on doing in terms of splitting up the country. I’m scared for the marginalized people. I know people who are literally scared for their lives.”
“This election just shows how people allow open sexism and racism to continue to be such a prevalent thing in our society,” said Mulzac, a member of the spoken word club on campus. “There’s nobody [there] to check or balance our government.”
The protest concluded with students exchanging hugs and words of hope. “Share knowledge with your fellow peers,” said Mulzac. “At the end of the day, we need somewhere where we can all come together and have a safe space to talk about what’s going on in this world.”
Students crowded Matthew Kelly of the Environmental Club following the protest, signing their names on his list of “people interested in making a change.”
“In this impending Trump presidency, it’s really important that we’re all together,” Kelly said, addressing the crowd. He urged everyone who signed their names to come back to the quad next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. “The purpose of this is to bring voices that aren’t heard often, and mine is probably one of them, and solve problems through mutual aid,” he later commented.
— The Montclarion (@TheMontclarion) November 10, 2016
“Coming together and putting aside differences without judgement and doing more things like this, having people speak up about social issues about, I like to call them uncomfortable conversations, that we tend to just breeze by because we like to talk surface level things,” Swain said. “The current action is to constantly push forward. Every day we wake up, and we should be doing something that benefits not only us, but the person next to us. The more we come together, the more we fight for policy, and the more we stand up and make people hear our cries—that’s going to make a change.”
Awije Bahrami, Entertainment Editor, contributed to reporting for this article.