Hundreds of students and faculty participated in a #NotMyPresident protest on Friday afternoon. The event was held in response to Donald Trump’s winning of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and was meant to align with protests occurring nationwide.
Calling out to hundreds of participants, leaders rallied a crowd at Binghamton University around a mission of support. Ebony Derr, a sophomore majoring in accounting and the treasurer of SHADES, gave a call to action.
“Many of us were bewildered by the unimaginable. However surreal this election was, this is our reality,” she said. “The question is: What will we do?”
Participants first gathered at the Pegasus Statue on the Spine for opening remarks. Nick Terepka, a sophomore majoring in sociology, organized the event. They opened by prioritizing safety and reviewed protocols to prevent violent interactions if participants were faced with objection.
Before leading the march, Terepka highlighted what they believed was most immediately problematic about Trump’s candidacy.
“We feel our existence is threatened because his rhetoric has the possibility of becoming policy,” Terepka said. “Our right to exist should be guarded and protected more carefully than someone else’s opinion on whether we should be able to exist or not.”
Chants of “My body, my choice,” “Not my president” and “Black lives matter” could be heard around the Brain as students walked and carried signs with statements like “Not another trail of tears,” “Stop trans violence” and “Stop pretending climate change isn’t real.”
Students such as Steven Lazickas, a senior double-majoring in history and political science, attended the rally to show support for fellow members of the campus community.
“I’m here because I want to show the people who are afraid of the rhetoric of the campaign and the incoming administration that they are not alone and that they have allies,” he said.
Sydney Rosen, a senior double-majoring in English and women, gender and sexuality studies, said she participated in the rally to help students feel safe and supported.
“This protest is for those who really feel dejected or depressed about the outcome of this election so that they can feel like their voices are being heard so that they don’t feel hopeless,” Rosen said. “They should know that political action still matters and that we can still make a difference. Even if it doesn’t change everything, we can still contribute to the national conversation that’s happening. “
Some participants were showing solidarity while also examining the election from a critical angle. Max Samson, a sophomore double-majoring in economics and graphic design, said that while he supported Democratic runner-up Hillary Clinton in the election, there were definite flaws with communication in the Democratic campaign.
“Once people offend our sensibilities, we just call them poor and bigots, which is why we don’t know how to communicate with people outside of our base,” Samson said. “People from the rust-belt states thought we didn’t care about them, because we didn’t try. It sucks, and it’s hard to try, but you have to ask, ‘Why are you saying those things?’ But we don’t even go there, because it’s hard to do that.”
To end the march, participants reconvened at the Pegasus Statue. There, one student named Luke, who did not wish to be further identified, was wearing American flag attire and a hat that said “Make America great again” while attempting to engage with the protestors.
“I wanted to see the event, to come out and to show support for Donald Trump 2016,” Luke said. “You have the right to protest, I think you’re wrong but you have the right to protest. We won.”
Luke remained on the outside edge of the protest, while multiple participants created a divide between him and the larger group of students.
Stressing that a main goal of the protest was to combat hateful language, Terepka said they encouraged everyone to oppose discriminatory and threatening rhetoric.
“The purpose of this rally is to show this campus that we oppose bigoted speech,” Terepka said. “Letting friends say bigoted things because they have a difference of opinion should no longer be acceptable.”
At the end of the rally, Derr called for all participants to continue their actions.
“Do not come here today and not do anything after you leave here,” she said. “Do not make this your last act of activism.”