Students walk out against Trump as part of nationwide protest

Fears of xenophobia, racism and deportation after the 2016 presidential election have prompted nationwide campus protests. SU and SUNY-ESF joined the movement yesterday.

A week after the 2016 presidential election, more than 1,000 Syracuse University and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry students gathered on SU’s Quad, joining the national "sanctuary campus" walk-out movement to protest the messages of President-elect Donald Trump.

The walk-out started at 3 p.m. in front of Hendricks Chapel. Two of the organizers, Hasmik Djoulakian and Sierra Noel Lee, stood with a megaphone in hand and thanked the crowd of students for their support. They reminded the crowd that the protest was meant to be peaceful and not to engage those against the walk-out.

Photo: Jensen Stidham
Students march in front of the Hall of Languages during the campus walk-out.

Students and faculty were  encouraged to stand up and express their thoughts and fears of the future with Trump as president. Many students took the megaphone and talked about their fears of racism, xenophobia and homophobia within this country. One faculty member stood up and read a poem to encourage everyone to stand up for what is right.

From Hendricks Chapel, the crowd walked down University Place and across the Promenade to end the protest on SUNY-ESF’s campus. As the marched along the route, many students held signs saying “Hate is not an American value” and chanted “No human is illegal,” in response to Trump’s campaign promise to undocumented workers.

Organizers and protesters said that the walk-out was about more than just the election. It was a collective effort to show everyone that both campuses are accepting of all races, genders and ethnicities. And that no one should feel unsafe living and learning on campus.

“While the United States isn’t my home, Syracuse University is,” said SU student Nedda Sarshar, one of the event’s organizers. “And I have a commitment to make sure that everyone feels safe.”

Her efforts to organize the protest came after hearing friends worry about their safety on campus. Sarshar, who is from Canada, said people even joked about moving in with her after the results of the election.

Several Trump supporters were also in attendance. One female student said she heard them laughing in the back of the crowd, but said that even their presence was helping their support.

SU student and protester Danny Roetzer said Trump supporters should know the protest means more than protesting Trump.

“Right now we need to come together,” Roetzer said “and make sure that our peers and our families feel comfortable.”

The organizers said that they are still considering what to do next. They want to create a Coalition of Justice on campus to continue their efforts in establishing a safe haven for everyone. SU and SUNY-ESF are just two of 40 other college campuses to take part in the nationwide event. Sarshar said she hopes these efforts encourage international outreach.

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