First-years Lead Student Protest

Photo Courtesy Of dailyhampshiregazette.com | The students eneded their march at Pulaski Park in downtown Northampton.

Photo Courtesy Of dailyhampshiregazette.com | The students eneded their march at Pulaski Park in downtown Northampton.

Destiny Wiley-Yancy ’20
Contributing Writer

On the afternoon of Dec. 11, over 100 students staged a protest following the election outcome of Donald Trump as the president-elect. The event was organized by the Asian Student Activists Association, which is a new cultural organization on campus. Students congregated on Chapin Lawn, marching for what was described as a “response to the election results,” and stated their refusal to remain silent.

The protest’s Facebook event page entitled “F***Donald Trump protest” was shared with more than a thousand people and gathered more than 100 attendees. This led to a substantial turnout of students who cried boisterous chants into downtown Northampton. Students treaded through campus grounds to the steps of College Hall, where they settled for a portion of the protest to make a statement to Smith’s administration, and then they continued into downtown Northampton. The protesters then marched to Pulaski Park, calling out a range of chants that echoed sentiments of students on campuses across the country.

Mieko Kuramoto ’20 helped organize the event and is a member of the Asian Student Activist Association. She also set up the Facebook event page. “We’re angry and we want to express that. We are fearful and we want to express that,” she said,  “we tried to make a place where students could really explode with their anger.”

Students who were not able to take part in the protest due to prior commitments were encouraged to wear black in solidarity with those marching and for groups experiencing heightened amounts of vulnerability in the current political climate. Attracted by the mass of women wielding signs that read “Not my president” and “Love Trumps Hate,” community members were also encouraged to join student protesters in their cries at Pulaski.

“We ran into a lot of people today in Northampton who said they did not know about it. If they that had known, they would have brought all of their friends who voted against Trump,” said Kuramoto. “I think that kind of a connection with the community is necessary.”

The protest came three days after the Community Gathering Day of Mourning at JMG, which was communicated through email as an opportunity “to connect with friends and colleagues and feel the power of our community.” Despite its measures, it left some students, especially students of marginalized identities, with the impression that school-wide forums aren’t inclusive.

Amelia Windorski ’20, who attended the protest, said that the protest was a good counter to the event at JMG earlier that week.

“I saw that some of my fellow Bridgees [participants in the Bridge Pre-orientation Program] had actually organized [the protest], and I kind of knew if there were other Bridgees at the helm of this, it was going to be a better experience than some of the events that have taken place after the election,” she said.

“I definitely appreciate that the administration recognizes that this unfortunate event was really hard for our student body and they recognize that students needed a place to go to be together, but I thought that it was really hard [at JMG] because a lot of white voices were drowning out voices of more marginalized people,” Windorski said. “I just think that it was kind of inappropriate and it made me feel like their sadness and grief was more important than the fact that a lot of people of color feel unsafe.”

Following the forum in JMG earlier this week, the organizers behind the protest set out to change that feeling. Explicitly detailed in the Facebook’s description of the event, was that first-years rallying together on a Friday afternoon not only to protest the recent election of Donald Trump, but his incendiary remarks which they wrote “advocates violence against communities of marginalized identities.”

Kuramoto, also said that the forum on the Wednesday following the election left some students, especially students of marginalized communities feeling like their voices were being drowned out.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of room for the POC voice,” she said. “We’re angry and we want to express that. We are fearful and we want to express that. And, we’re in danger and we need to be able to break the silence. We tried to make a place where students could really explode with their anger.”

As for next steps, this group will continue to stage actions that advocate on behalf of the Smith community in the future.

“We were hoping to get more in contact with the other unity orgs [on campus] to really show solidarity that we are not divided and to get a good representation of these groups and say that we are all together; we are united” Kuromoto said.

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