By James Duffy, sports editor
Approximately 100 students gathered on Centennial Common Thursday night to protest and speak out about the election of Donald J. Trump. The event, called Students Against Trump, was organized by Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID) to create a public forum for people to voice their opinions about the president-elect.
Some students brought candles to symbolize a vigil, while others held handmade signs with a variety of messages including “Black Lives Matter,” “Not my president” and “Water is life #noDAPL.” Members also chanted and sung, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop.”
“It’s a chance for us to stand together,” said Henoss Taddesse, a third-year political science major and SAID member who helped organize the event. “People got a chance to share what they’re frustrated about and that includes, but is not limited to, Donald Trump.”
Students lined up along the stone Northeastern sign in Centennial around 7 p.m. to wait to speak into a megaphone.
Towsif Ahasan, a junior economics and business major, called for change to be made at all levels of government, especially within states.
“What I am interested in is material change. We have to make a difference at the state and local level now,” he said to the crowd. “People of color […] matter in New York and Massachusetts, but they matter in Idaho and Kansas too.”
Ahasan also encouraged students to oppose Trump by any means necessary.
“Exercise your Second Amendment right,” he said through the megaphone. “Let’s make the [National Rifle Association] NRA regret giving us the right to bear arms.”
The event was about more than just Trump, Taddesse said. On Monday, SAID published a letter online calling for President Joseph E. Aoun and other administrators to denounce bigoted acts by students and designate Northeastern as a sanctuary campus.
As a sanctuary school, Northeastern would protect undocumented immigrants in its community from deportations and raids by federal immigration authorities. So far, the letter has been signed by more than 600 students and faculty members.
“Over the past week, the result of our presidential election has weighed heavy on the hearts of the marginalized people the president-elect, Donald J. Trump, has directly and repeatedly ostracized; sexual assault survivors and those belonging to Muslim, African-American, Latinx, LGBTQA+ and undocumented communities to name a few,” the letter read. “As a university- and city-wide community, it is our responsibility to assess and act upon the gravity of this national moment and what it means for the course of history, social justice and the real day to day lives of those who live in uncertainty.”
Prior to the publication of SAID’s letter, Aoun sent out an email to the Northeastern community calling for “unity, inclusion and respect” in response to the 2016 election.
“I know that the events of recent days—and indeed, the tumult of recent months, both nationally and globally—have left many of us feeling vulnerable,” Aoun wrote. “Please know that Northeastern will always be a haven for inclusion and free expression. We will always defend human dignity. We will never countenance bigotry or intolerance in any form.”
While they appreciated the sentiment of the message, SAID members wrote in their letter that they were dissatisfied with the vagueness of Aoun’s email and wanted to see more actions taken by the administration to make Northeastern a more inclusive school.
“Unified, respectful and inclusive communities are not created by chance, and Northeastern will need to do much more than send a five paragraph-long email to truly create the type of community it boasts,” the letter read.
Advocating for undocumented immigrants in the community was a shared goal of both the letter and the protest, Taddesse said.
“We’re pushing for Northeastern University to make sure this is a safe space and sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrants,” he said. “Uniquely, this was a speak out so people could share their voices about whatever concerned them.”
Photo by James Duffy