Approaching UNH Thompson Hall there were people smiling, the conversation were loud but controlled, people were giving “free hugs” symbolizing the slogans on their signs. They were speaking in unison about their opinions of the recent election. The weather did not root any hesitation, as the group of 200 or so walked down Main Street and encouraged passing cars to “come join”.
“An event like this impacts students in a number of ways. First, we want students, faculty and staff members, and the community to understand that we are with them and that we will not be silent in the face of bigotry,” said a representative of the University of New Hampshire College Democrats group. This student-run group has organized a Walkout and March to speak out against the recent presidential election.
Despite the rain, when 2:45 approached, students walked out of their classrooms to congregate in front of Thompson Hall. Students were equipped with signs, flags, and spirit, in hopes, to make sure their voice was heard. The march proceeded down Main Street into the downtown area where the students then marched up Mill Road and passed the back entrance of the field house. Attendees were carrying signs that read “Love is love, equal rights for all” “Do I matter” the most noticeable banner with the message, “we are a generation sick of bearing the system of oppression. We are standing up for what is right by loving diversity and celebrating unity. We are rising together.” With the words diversity and unity written in an array of colors representing the LGBTQ community.
There have been these types of marches all across the United States ever since Donald Trump was announced president early morning on November 9th. The announcement of his presidency caused controversy as his outlook on many topics such as race, sexual orientation, and religion are discriminatory. From his comments about appointing judges to overturn the same-sex marriage law that was constitutionalized June of 2015, to building a wall paid by Mexico to prevent immigration from the southern border, people are standing up against his policies to get Trump to reevaluate his stances. As of right now, the protesters goal is not to impeach.
“Trump is already attempting to invalidate these protests by calling their participants ‘professional protesters,’ which implies that they are not actual people with actual complaints about his future presidency. What I am hoping, however, is that Trump will be forced to change his policies. This was a very divisive election. Trump represents everything millions of Americans have been fighting against for years,” says Fiona Grove (‘17) who attended the walkout and march Monday afternoon.
It has become inevitable that Trump will the takeover White House following his inauguration in January. With no legal outlet protests and walkouts are the easiest way to raise awareness and bring about change.
“I will recognize Trump as my president, but recognizing Trump means that I have a moral obligation to show solidarity for women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ nationwide. I hope that walkouts and protests like these across the nation can get the government’s attention. I also hope that it can provide some level of comfort for those who are currently terrified of what this means for America’s present and future states,” states Grove.
For the UNH students, this march gave them a chance to effectively speak up for what they believe in right on their own campus.
“The walkout and march is to help people vocalize their frustration and anger at the racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, and all around hate the country has been seeing since and during the election. Peaceful protest is a staple of American democracy. It is everyone’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble and we wanted to have an event so that people could exercise that right,” says members of the college democrat group at the University.
Most people had the same incentive as to why they attended. Wishes to have their voices and opinions heard and to spread hope to other Democrats who attended.
“My hope is that the protest bring up the conversation of equality and respect for all sects of the country, and to really work on the many problems this country has with racism, sexism, and the general intolerance of other ideals different to the classic American lifestyles. As of right now the rise of President Elect Trump has half the nation upset and feeling as if their voice is being ignored and degraded,” says Sophia Graff (‘18) who attended the march Monday afternoon.
This was all oriented around the idea of a peaceful protest and was successfully executed as there were no violent protesters who attended the march.
“We hope to show everyone that we are not going to be silent when faced with hate. We want to show that we are standing up for the rights we have in this great nation. This event will bring more awareness to bias and prejudice that happens every day in this country and on our campus,” closes the UNH college Democrats.
Written by Katie Schmitt
Photos by Katie Schmitt and Kristen Mandeville