Dining hall workers, students walkout to protest Trump inauguration


More than 100 students walked out of class in January in solidarity with dining workers. / Photo by Lauren Scornavacca

By Andrew Hvazda, news correspondent

More than 100 students walked out of class Friday afternoon in solidarity with striking Northeastern dining hall workers during the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.

UNITE HERE Local 26—a union that represents hospitality and food service workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Northeastern’s dining hall staffannounced on their Facebook page Thursday that Northeastern workers would strike for one day during the inauguration. Students in Huskies Organizing With Labor (HOWL) joined the walkout to stand in solidarity with the workers and protest Trump’s proposed policies.

“The idea is to show people in power that immigrants and people of color and women are not just going to be trampled on,” said Joely Barrios, a third-year communication studies and sociology combined major who helped organize the walkout.

Just before the strike, 50 students gathered in the Snell Library quad for the walkout. Students held signs including “Eat the Rich,” “Students and Workers Protest Trump” and “We’ve Got Your Back” as organizers gave speeches and handed out flyers to passing students.

Many students stopped by to watch and listen to the protesters, while a few passersby shouted “Make America Great Again” at the group.

“I think it’s very silly,” said Anthony Ramadei, a third-year biology major. “They should give the president a chance.”

Speakers highlighted the importance of the immigrant community at Northeastern, as well as the risk they were taking by protesting.

“We stand with them and all vulnerable communities Trump threatens,” first-year School of Law student Keally Cieslik shouted into a megaphone.

As the presidential swearing in drew nearer, the students split into groups and marched to International Village, Stetson East and Stetson West to meet up with dining hall workers.

The groups came back together in the Snell Library quad, now amounting to more than 200 people. The students and workers then marched around the quad, some with bucket drums, chanting “Si, se puede” (Yes you can).

Justin Reddington, a senior civil engineering major, said he joined the protests because he admired the courage of the workers and the strength of the students’ response.

“I support the workers’ struggle and will fight for their right to adequate working conditions,” Reddington said. “Boston is a progressive city and it’s my duty to live up to that.”

After circling the quad several times, the group marched to the Boston Common. Several police officers stopped oncoming traffic to allow the protesters to march through intersections. A few cars honked in support and some passengers shouted encouragements from inside.

At the Common, they joined another group of protesters at the Parkman Bandstand and several organizers and workers who spoke to the crowd. One of those speakers, Angela Bello, has been working in the dining halls at Northeastern for nine years.

“I was inspired to come here today because we are immigrant workers and we want to let the country’s leader know that we are going to stay here forever,” Bello said to cheers from the crowd. “We want to show everybody that when you are united you have to power. […] Don’t be scared, fight for your rights and defend your ideas.”

Barrios  was happy with the turnout and energy of the crowd.
“I think that it shows how much people are fired up and they’re not going to take it anymore,” Barrios said. “They’re not going to take abuses for just being who they are.”

Photo by Lauren Scornavacca