Northwestern students fired up about the contentious election results gathered on the ground floor of Norris for “Wildcats Against Trump: Countering the Inauguration,” a rally to join forces and build a community of students against Trump on campus.
Student Action NU, a coalition of student organizers, planned the event for Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, calling out for Northwestern students to come “rally, build community and join the growing resistance to Trump and his corrupt, bigoted, hateful agenda,” according to the event Facebook page.
Before the speakers began giving personal anecdotes as to why they decided to come to the anti-Trump rally, Northwestern alumnus Zane Waxman (SESP ‘16), a community organizer who works with Evanston and Chicago students, spoke over a megaphone and asked all attendees to turn to someone they didn’t know and talk about why they decided to attend the event.
Waxman kicked off the rally by sharing his reasons for being there: “for a lot of reasons – mainly because my mom is losing her health insurance in the next two months and so am I and so are my siblings.” He stressed that this was just the tip of the iceberg for him but hoped the rally would provide a platform for students to speak up about why they will resist Trump during his presidency.
McCormick senior Natalie Ward followed Waxman with a story about a movie theater she frequently visited with her family. She described it as a movie theater for families on a budget, charging only $1.50 on Tuesday afternoons. It was at "the watering hole of low income moviegoers” where she fondly remembers watching great movies like Finding Nemo and “terrible” movies like the House at the End of the Street. But their judgement-free haven was bought by a larger, wealthier chain that revamped the theater in a black community rather than a primarily white one.
Ward used her story as a direct representation of what Trump she thinks Trump will do to the U.S. “They will take what you have,” she said. “And destroy what you value for their benefit.”
Weinberg sophomore Moriah Lavey spoke next on behalf of Fossil Free NU, a student activist group that works towards fossil divestment, and on behalf of the environment. Lavey talked about the potential problems Trump’s cabinet poses on the environmental success that has been made, naming off a list of individuals in Trump’s administration who don’t believe in climate change. Then Lavey stirred up the crowd, saying “the environmental movement's power is not in big, corrupt money but in hardworking citizens.” Highlighting the urgent need for loud environmental activism, Lavey asked students to sign a petition to Sen. Dick Durbin, asking him to oppose Trump’s EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt.
McCormick freshman and Student Action NU member Savanna Ruiz took to the megaphone and said the names of three members of Northwestern's board of trustees she said donated thousands of dollars to Trump. Waxman added how important it was to hold these figures – figures who make decisions about student financial and and loans – accountable.
Waxman ended the rally by inviting students to the second floor of Norris to create posters for future demonstrations and discuss plans to create a movement that goes beyond protests, and builds political power for the most marginalized people.
After the rally dispersed, students stopped at the Omega Delta Phi fraternity and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority table on the ground floor where they encouraged whiteboard reflections on students' identities for their “I Am Here” campaign, which encouraged the visibility of marginalized groups.
Weinberg senior and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority member Angel Ayon talked about how important it was for Trump and his administration to know that historically marginalized groups will stand together and demand to be heard.
“Just like yesterday, just like today, we are here,” Ayon said.
As students gathered to create protest posters and listen to rap songs like “Fuck Donald Trump” by NG and Nipsey Hussle, Waxman outlined the next three steps for Student Action NU's resistance against Trump: a general meeting in the next week, protests in Chicago on Resist Trump Tuesdays and a phone bank for progressive women of color running in the upcoming major Evanston elections.
“I’m ready to fight this administration every step of the way,” Medill freshman Zoe Johnson said. Johnson held a sign that said "NU Resists Trumpism" throughout the event.
Editor's note: a previous version of this story misattributed a quote that was actually said by Zoe Johnson. We regret this error, and made the change on Jan. 20 at 5:45 p.m. Victoria Alfred-Levow has previously contributed to North by Northwestern.