For many, the presidential election results on Nov. 8 were a sign change would finally come to America – it would become “great again”. But for others, it signified a turn in everything President Obama worked to achieve the past eight years.
Protests erupted all over the country so people could show they didn’t approve of an America led by a man they believe to be racist, sexist and a bigot, President-elect Donald Trump. They marched throughout many major cities, including Chicago, to vocalize Trump would “not be their president.”
In preparation for his Jan. 20 inauguration date, DePaul students are trying to vocalize this same message not only throughout Chicago, but on campus as well. They’ve formed a coalition called Students Together Against Trump (STAT), which will host a full day of events on Inauguration Day called “Day of Defiance” to show their disapproval.
“(We’re showing) that we’re not going to stand for this rhetoric pretty much and the things Trump is saying are unacceptable,” sophomore Leena Almasri said. “It’s not just a difference in political opinion, but pure discrimination against people who don’t deserve to be treated differently.”
As a Palestinian Muslim, Almasri was inspired to be a part of STAT because she feels Trump’s policies will directly affect her family, based on the way he has spoken about her religion in the past. America’s unforeseen future especially hit home for her during Obama’s farewell address on Jan. 10.
During his speech, Obama mentioned how Americans shouldn’t treat one another differently based on race.
“Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight,” he said. “Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus Finch — who said ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view (…) until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’”
Almasri’s mother started crying when she heard him say those words.
“Seeing my mother cry about something so basic as ‘we should be treated right’ tells you a lot about who’s coming into office and the kind of treatment we’re going to have afterwards when (Trump’s) in office,” Almasri said.
So when she was asked to chair STAT’s second meeting on Jan. 12, Almasri couldn’t resist. During the meeting, about 60 people showed up to vote on the name for the coalition, talk about whether they want to be an organization on DePaul’s campus or remain independent and the agenda for Inauguration Day.
Some were hesitant about naming the group STAT because they felt it would alienate people from joining, but when Almasri asked “Who wants to change the name?”, no hands were in the air. Shortly after the vote, the room was split up into two committees: one for media so students on campus could be aware of what’s going on during Inauguration Day, and one for the people who would be taking action on Inauguration Day.
For those taking action, they will be participating in a “Murmur of Democracy” organized by Matthew Girson in the Department of Art, Media and Design from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., STAT will have a speak out on either the Quad or in the Schmitt Academic Center pit, based on how the weather is that day. At 3 p.m., there will be a socialist art march at Daley Plaza.
A “Resist Trump: Inauguration Chicago March” protest will then be led outside Trump Tower at 5 p.m., and the DePaul Drag Show will take place at 8:30 p.m. hosted by Act Out DePaul.
Act Out DePaul, No DAPL DePaul, DePaul Socialists, Amnesty DePaul, Students for Justice in Palestine, African Students Association and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy are just a few of the campus organizations that make up STAT.
However it is open to anyone who would like to join. As stated on the flyer STAT posted across campus, “You don’t have to be in a group to organize with us – turn your feelings into action; join the resistance.”
Freshman Allen Davis is one of the people who saw the flyer and immediately thought he needed to be there.
“I didn’t think of (STAT) as a club, I thought of it as a forum for students to speak about how they feel about (a Trump) administration,” Davis said. “I don’t think he embodies Republican or Democratic value. I just think he’s power hungry, I’m against that.”
After attending his first STAT meeting, Allen will continue to contribute to the group’s overall goal.
“Being here, I want to be part of a group that is able to allow a lot of people who do not know about Trump and his policies,” Allen said. “I want people to talk about something they don’t agree with because I think it’s very important as an American citizen to know what you’re up against and what you’re supporting.”
Almasri believes bringing people like Allen into STAT as well as campus organizations will help to spread the group’s message in a more meaningful way.
“Bringing these groups and making them stronger as one is better than just us trying to do things individually,” Almasri said. “So the idea is the more of us there are, the stronger we will be and we will always have each other for support.”