“Overcome.” “Love trumps hate.” “We go high, they go low.” “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” “The people, united, will never be defeated.”
These are a few of the messages University of Pennsylvania students chanted loud and clear during a “Solidarity Walk” the day after the election of one of Penn’s own alumni.
Organized by a menagerie of student groups, from We Are Watching to Penn Hillel, the event featured a group walk from College Green as far as 39th Street and back to Houston Hall. Students marched, chanted, and waved slogan-painted signs which spoke out against the results of the Presidential Election. Signs featured phrases including, “Love Trumps Hate,” “Not My President,” and “Trump Is Still a Bully,” as well as one sporting a picture of female genitalia.
Before students began marching, they were welcomed at College Green by Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Access, Reverend William C. Gipson. “For those of us who believe in freedom we will never be defeated,” Reverend Gipson stated. “We will never give up…I want you to know that you are not alone and you will never be alone….Power to the people.”
International student Selene Lee, a graduate student in the School of Education, shared her disappointment in the election’s results. “I’m not a U.S. citizen, so I couldn’t vote in the election, but I really, really wanted to vote. But I really, really hoped that the Americans wouldn’t elect Trump, and I was just in disbelief this morning when I found out what happened….I’m very disappointed that the Americans would elect someone so racist and bigoted.”
Another student commented anonymously on what drove her to join the walk. “I don’t think there’s [sic] any words in any language that can accurately say how I feel right now.”
The walk culminated in a Speak Out event in the Hall of Flags at Houston Hall, where students were invited to pass a microphone to each other and share their thoughts in a safe environment. One student commented without giving her name, “I couldn’t sleep last night and I woke up this morning and thought I was in a nightmare.”
College freshman, Emily, shared her disagreement with the sentiment that this year’s election produced historic results. “I can’t look at last night, when a white rich man was elected as president for the forty-fourth time, as history being made….We can’t let one person, no matter how bad he is–and let me tell you, he’s terrible, I hate him–but we can’t let one person ruin everything that we’ve done.”
Other students shared their discontent with Trump voters close to them. “What just really makes me so angry is how people I know, people I grew up with, they decided to choose hatred, they decided to choose their desire to overthrow the status quo over their friends…You’re betraying your cashier, the person who rings you up, your doctor, your neighbor. I don’t understand how you could put your personal hatred over people you love,” shared a College senior who introduced himself as Nick.
College freshman, Oliver, called on fellow students to shun Trump supporters. “I’m done with people telling me that they are my friend and then vote for Donald Trump…Don’t talk to people who would vote for Donald Trump.”
Engineering senior, Brianna, voiced her concern that Trump’s election could physically endanger her by encouraging sexual violence. “I am proud to be a woman and I fear with Trump being elected his normalization of rape culture…I fear that my safety will be compromised and that rape will become even more normalized.”
One non-Penn student spoke out at the gathering as well. “There’s no formal education on how to listen to another human being. I just wanted to emphasize the importance of listening not only to our friends but also to our adversaries,” stated Zack, a senior from Haverford College. “Listen to one another. I see your pain; I’m here for you.”