Post-election event rallies for peace

Noah Hausmann

As the outcome of the 2016 presidential election sunk into the minds of America Wednesday, Nov. 9, a peace rally to console students appeared on the NMU academic mall in late morning.

re-mail-google-comThe gathering of about 40 students, faculty and staff shared their concerns openly about America’s future with Donald Trump as new president and expressed the need of people to support one another and protect each other’s rights as citizens. Students held cardboard signs with messages of love and acceptance: “Civil rights for all,” “Stand strong, stand solid, stand united” and “Free hugs.”

The event was organized by two Northern students, who got the idea at 3 a.m. when discussing the election results as votes came in. Rachel McCaffrey, senior Native American studies major, and Natalie Berger, senior digital cinema, were both emotionally shaken by the news of Donald Trump being chosen as president elect, and they knew others would be rattled too.

“Because of the election, a lot of people have been scared—minority groups, people of poverty,” McCaffrey explained. “They’re scared of what’s going to happen. I’ve received a lot texts, emails. I was even on the phone with one of my friends, who was crying over the results. And so we decided to join together in solidarity and unite everybody, saying we’re not alone and that if we stand strong, our voices can be heard.

“We’re not going to be shaken by fear. We’re here. We will stand united,” she said.

The peace rally began at 11 a.m. and continued throughout the afternoon. The students posted the event on Facebook and invited friends and faculty to join them, Berger said.

“This candidate that our country has chosen does not stand for all of us,” Berger said. “We hope that through this protest we can rally together and make our voices heard for better civil rights in our country.”

The vice president of ASNMU, Xavier Pete-Dye, was among the students that spoke. His message informed students of the resources available to them through this stressful time.

“After today’s rally, I don’t want students to feel alone,” he said. “There are offices they can go to—the ASNMU office, dean of students office, counseling, RAs and RDs—and resources available. It’s a support system to show that there are others here to help.”

Jeulani Gahiji, chair of the ASNMU general assembly, described how the election outcome had affected her personally and why she attended the rally.

“I’m here because I needed support. I knew I wasn’t alone, but I needed to hear something positive to remind me that hope is not lost and why I should continue fighting, because I genuinely had given up hope,” she said. “My hope is that people on this campus would be considerate of others’ differences.”

Khalil Rasheed, president of the Black Student Union, explained why he joined the event.

“The reason I’m here today is, first of all, I’m a 22-year-old African American Muslim male,” he said. “When I woke up this morning, I felt defeated. My vote is really important—I know it is—but after the results last night, it just drained me emotionally and physically. I was glad to see that someone wanted to bring students together so they can share their emotions and how they feel.”

Stephanie Parks, junior microbiology major, described the hostility that the election exacerbated between groups of Americans.

“I’m very upset about the outcome of the election, not because my candidate didn’t win, but because it seems to have brought out a dark side in people that I didn’t think existed,” she said. “There’s a lot of friends, friends of my family, neighbors that know that I’m part of the LGBTQ community, and they tend to blow off those issues. That’s what upsets me most about this is that they don’t support my rights. I feel like I need to do something and it’s my duty to do something about it, and [this rally] is a good start.”

Parks shared her concerns for the future of the United States.

“I’m scared of what’s going to come next,” she said. “When you have the majority of the federal government now run by people who want to suppress the rights of minorities, you’re scared. You don’t know where things are going to go.”

She also addressed financial issues in light of Trump’s campaign platform to end Obamacare.

“I’m a student. I don’t have a lot of money. I need healthcare because of issues that I have. And especially the comments of getting rid of universal healthcare—that will affect me directly. I will not be able to go to the doctor. And I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“I’m terrified of what’s going to come next,” she said.