By Ron Camacho and Diana Giraldo
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, the hate has got to go,” the 150 students and faculty members chanted as they marched to protest President-elect Donald Trump at noon on Tuesday.
“We wanted to represent our anger,” said Mayra Cano, a junior English and Chicano Latino studies major who defines as Chicana and is a part of Movimiento of Oaxaqueno Leaders in Education (MOLE). “This election shows me that change is necessary and now is not the time to be apathetic, and we are no longer afforded that luxury. It calls for action.”
The protest, which was organized by campus Chicano advocacy group MEChA, the Black Student Union, CLASSA and MOLE, started in the Free Speech Area. After students and faculty voiced why they were protesting, they marched south toward Shaw Avenue and circled toward the dormitories until they made their way back to the Henry Madden Library all the while chanting, “Fresno State united against hate,” and called Trump, “A cheater, a liar, a climate-change denier.”
The protest was similar to other protests happening throughout the nation on college campuses, said Victor Olivares, president of the Latino faculty staff association.
“Students are feeling unsafe because of the comments that were made during the election and now we’re wondering to what extent will those be pushed forward in terms of deportation, women’s rights, the LGBT communities,” Olivares said. “It is affecting the student’s ability to study and stay focused on campus, and our mission as professors on campus is to make a safe environment for all students. If we do that, all students can excel.”
Olivares said professor have shared with him that the sense of discomfort the students are feeling is affecting their ability to study, and they have noticed student performance on exams are low, absenteeism is higher, and there is a lack of participation because of the genuine fear the students feel.
Joseph Anderson, third-year philosophy and Africana studies student, said he decided to protest to express his frustration with Trump’s election.
“I’m an African-American male. I’m already perceived as angry,” Anderson said, “But the fact that someone who is so miniscule and so childlike, so uneducated in the world of politics, is actually going to be governing our country? That’s very angering.”
Faculty members also stood up to voice their thoughts on Trump.
Chicano and Latin American studies department chair Cristina Herrera said she participated in the protest to stand up for minority students.
“The department of Chicano and Latin American studies stands against homophobia, racism, xenophobia, sexism and transphobia. Our offices are sanctuaries for the brown, queer and black folk.” Herrera said, “We will not stand compliant. We will not stand by while xenophobia takes over on this campus.”
The Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association released a statement to the university Tuesday which read: “As we continue to hear of instances of harassment and intimidation of Latino students and others throughout the nation, we want our students to know we stand by them and will do everything in our power to ensure a safe environment on our college campus that is conducive to achieving academic success and community progress. We commend students for taking a stand and encourage them to do so peacefully and with civility. We also encourage students to participate in university-sponsored events designed to foster respect and constructive dialogue.”
Sophomore student and MOLE member Mickey Chacon said he helped organize the protest after seeing other colleges stage their own large protests.
“I was kind of mad that Fresno State wasn’t protesting, and a lot of the other organizations were mad that no one else was speaking out about this. That’s why we got together and started planning something over the weekend,” Chacon said.
Since Trump’s victory last week, massive protests have been held in many major cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. Several college universities have also held their own protests.
Universities are a place for students, as well as community members, to express ideas in a place that is safe to share divergent view, explained Kevin Ayotte, Communication professor and Academic Senate chair.
“This is a place that is fundamentally founded on the idea of debating ideas and disagreeing in a manner that is civil yet also safe for all of those participants,” Ayotte said. “I think this election in particular has the additional significance in that there were a number of policies that were on the table that affect a number of our students and their families. There is legitimate fear when they have heard people say that those individuals may be deported.”
Ayotte said the key is to respect each other and to respect those disagreements.
On Fresno State’s campus, Chacon said he thinks students had to take their time to process Trump’s victory before immediately protesting.
“You have to look at how people react to these things in the student body. Maybe we’re just putting on fake smiles,” Chacon said, “I think Fresno State took a somber, personal approach. Everybody had to take some time for themselves first.”
By organizing the protest, Chacon hopes to encourage students to become more involved in political activism.
“Hopefully we get people out to these clubs to participate in political activism,” Chacon said, “Maybe some of the black and Latinx and Asian committees, Middle Eastern committees, maybe they can come together a little bit more and push for some change.”
Chacon said he will continue to fight against bigotry by continuing his own education.
“What’s a better way to beat a racist than gaining a degree?” he said.
The next Fresno State Rejects Hate will be held Wednesday at the Free Speech Area at 11 a.m. A Rally and March Against Trump will be held Saturday at noon near River Park at Blackstone and Nees avenues.