February 5, 2017

Peaceful Protests on College Campuses Follow Trump’s Election

Sarah Cehelyk ‘18

Results from the November 2016 election left many with feelings of hopelessness and others feeling victorious. Although reactions were divided, many individuals and groups took the results as an opportunity for unity. Young voters especially took this hopefulness to a new extreme through initiating peace rallies on their college campuses.
The University of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia, P.A., and the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., are two colleges that have united through rallies and peace protests following the election.
Immediately following the election, students and faculty united through positive encouragement. Daniela Shapiro, GOA class of 2016 and current freshman at the University of Rochester raved of her new school’s support post-election.
“My school offered group therapy at the interfaith chapel with meditation and discussion and so did the therapy center on campus,” Shapiro said. “My professors were really understanding and wanted to hear everyone's concerns and hopes for the future.”
Similarly, the University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and student body is striving for peace throughout the campus.
UPenn senior Sophie Beren spoke about a petition that has been going around campus in hopes of making Penn a safe sanctuary for all people. Beren also noted that campus clubs, such as TableTalk, which she started, are taking an active role in ensuring the comfort of all students.
“TableTalk… hopes to bring people of different backgrounds together,” she said, “and has been holding events to create safe spaces for all.”
Following the election, both Shapiro and Beren were added to post-election Facebook groups initiated by students and faculty of their respective campuses. The discussions within these Facebook groups focused on hope and positivity for the future rather than hateful speech.
At the University of Rochester peace rally, a powerful slogan was repeatedly chanted: “Love trumps hate.” The rally gave everyone, both Trump and Clinton supporters, to come together and unite under a common desire – love, respect and peace for all.
Beren was not able to attend the rally due to her busy class schedule, but the majority of her friends attended.
“The hopeful chants could be heard across campus,” Beren said.
At a time when many felt distraught and hopeless, these rallies gave individuals the strength to continue fighting for what it right.
Shapiro said she believes that “the rallies were not meant to be negative messages to Trump, but rather, a hopeful message for all who were scared. I know I was.”
Beren believes that the peace rallies on her campus gave individuals who would normally be silenced the opportunity to share their opinion.
“They’re being activists rather than sharing their opinions on social media,” she said. “It’s nice for people to have the opportunity to come together.“
Despite political differences, the desire to instill strength and hope within these college communities seems to be contagious. Many other universities and cities are holding similar rallies in order to instill peace within those who may be feeling otherwise.  

One could argue that these individuals are young and don’t have a powerful voice within society; however, some might argue the messages spread in these rallies are signs of ultimate strength. Concern for others, mutual respect and loving-kindness are all traits that these college students seek to embody. They hope to use their powerful voices to demonstrate that hope will always conquer hate.


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