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Loud chants of “Build bridges, not walls” and “This is what democracy looks like” erupted as students and faculty members marched around campus in a peaceful protest against President-elect Donald Trump at 10 p.m. Nov. 10.
Senior kinesiology major and Multicultural Club Council President Jarrett Mason and sophomore business administration major and ASULV Senator at Large Andrew Im put together the protest to encourage students to take action and release bottled up emotions as a result of the election outcome.
“We wanted to make sure this was about love, about making sure hope stays alive in our country, making sure hope stays alive in our community – letting people know they are not alone, and we stand together as one,” Mason said.
Mason and Im also wanted to encourage students to be more politically involved and have the protest be a catalyst for more political movements.
“I was on the Internet watching videos of various campuses, such as UCLA, Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, and it made me realize the other universities have a much higher sense of political efficacy than we do,” Im said.
The protest began as a slam poetry event sponsored by the Multicultural Club Council, but later evolved into a march, Director of Multicultural Affairs Daniel Loera said.
“People really needed a space to congregate and express,” Loera said. “There was a need for folks to be with others and this was the space for that to happen.”
The march began in Fasnacht Court and continued east along Bonita Avenue. Some students held “Not my president” and “Love trumps hate” signs to express themselves.
Mason led the protest chants with a megaphone and encouraged onlookers to join the march.
The voices chanting in unison caught the attention of students in residence halls and passerbys. Cars honked their horns in solidarity and some students applauded the protesters while others also voiced their disdain from their rooms.
As the march continued down C Street, more students began to join the group.
“What we needed was direction and a safe space to talk, and we got that here,” said Mariela Martinez, senior political science major and College Democrats treasurer. “I think a lot of violent protests that have been happening stems from lack of communication and understanding. We were able to address those two things here.”
The protest also drew community members such as Kikesa Kimbwala, a senior at Claremont High School and co-president of its Black Student Union club.
“This is the hope I was looking for in a time where I felt very hopeless,” Kimbwala said. “Every week, I try to go into my club to empower people and give people hope when they already feel marginalized and misrepresented. On Wednesday, I felt like I had very little to offer them, and I think that today has given me a lot of strength.”
Some La Verne residents retaliated by chanting “Donald Trump” back at the protesters when they were marching down E Street and turning into the Oaks residence hall to go back to campus.
The march ended in the Vista La Verne courtyard, and residents peeked from their windows with curiosity as chants of “Love trumps hate” echoed into the night.
Protesters gathered around the fountain and as the chants slowly died out, Im and Mason thanked everyone for coming out and voicing their desire for change.
“Find out who your district congressperson is and keep them accountable because Donald Trump is going to be the president for the next four years whether we like it or not,” Im said.
They then invited people to speak about what the election means to them. The overall message speakers relayed was the need for people to come together as a community and help each other. Some students also expressed their feelings by singing, like senior music major Albert Romiel.
A few Vista residents voiced their displeasure over the noise because of the late hour while others blasted their own music and removed their window screens to look out or shout down at the protestors.
“I’m proud of the students tonight for getting together as one and showing the University that we, the youth, care about our future and the future of this beautiful community,” Im said.
Moving forward from this protest, Carlos Yanes, senior English major and director of community outreach for the Latino Student Forum, said they’re going to be asking the school for greater student representation and support, as well as gender studies, ethnic studies and reduced tuition and fixed tuition for incoming freshman.
“I hope people that have always asked for change won’t stop asking for change and won’t give up regardless of this defeat, because it is a defeat, especially in a time where our generation prides ourselves in the progress that we’ve made,” Kimbwala said. “I just hope that in the future, we are not afraid to keep moving forward even though as a nation we’ve taken steps back.”
Jose Brambila and Christina Garcia also contributed to this story.
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