Jul 09, 2020
A sign of support to undocumented students posted by student Jasmine De La Torre at Fresno State after Donald Trump was elected president. (Jessica Johnson/The Collegian)

The student behind ‘the signs’ of support at Fresno State

The Tuesday election result stirred major emotions on Fresno State’s campus. Students were somber, and many felt stress from the realization that Donald Trump was elected president.

My initial intention was to make students feel safe and accepted during a time where being black, Mexican, Muslim or gay is frightening and nerve wracking. I was really just trying to make someone smile. -Jasmine De La Torre

Some students found themselves in tears, and the university even emailed the student body and faculty that the campus’s Student Health and Counseling Center was open to students who were in distress.

“I am keenly aware of the serious concerns that many of our undocumented students have about their future,” Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro said. “Fresno State is committed to supporting the success of all of our talented students, including undocumented students. Our students are a critical part of the next generation of leaders in the Valley and beyond.”

But it wasn’t just the school that offered something to the students. One student took it upon herself to post motivational signs up around campus. The signs were simple and originally popped up at the Henry Madden Library.

The messages read: “Dear female students, men cannot grab you,” “Dear undocumented students, in this class, there are no walls,” Dear black students, on this campus, your life matters,” Dear Muslim students, you are not terrorists,” and “Dear Mexican students, you are not rapists or drug dealers.”

The signs were designed to lift the spirits of those who felt personally attacked by the things President-elect Trump said during his campaign.

“Wednesday morning I went to my first class and the election was an inevitable topic. When we started discussing it I saw that a few students were crying, myself included. They were crying because they were hurt, fearful and frustration,” said Jasmine De La Torre, a junior Child Development major. “As the day progressed I noticed the same pattern of frustration and fear. That’s when I decided I had to do something. I was on facebook and saw that a teacher put up these papers on her classroom door so that’s when I got the idea of putting them up all over the campus. I figured that if I felt better reading those, I know some of my peers would too.”

De La Torre said that during this time her and her peers need to know that they are safe, accepted and supported despite the color of their skin, their religion and their race.

“My initial intention was to make students feel safe and accepted during a time where being black, Mexican, Muslim or gay is frightening and nerve wracking. I was really just trying to make someone smile. Our school is extremely diverse, filled with different kinds of minorities and my goal was to unite us all in acceptance,” she said.

Photos of the signs started to go viral. The Collegian posted the pictures to its Facebook page and within 24 hours, the post received nearly 150,000 views.

“I have mixed emotions about the attention it’s now receiving. I didn’t expect to get so much attention and go viral. I wasn’t even sure if students would see them. I’m glad that the messages are being spread, but at the same time, I’m nervous of the negative feedback, De La Torre said. “As of right now, I’m getting more positive feedback than negative. The most important thing to me is that people realize that students are afraid for themselves and for their loved ones.”

Her act of kindness has caused others to do the same.

“This morning I went to Fresno State, and I saw that someone else made different signs and posted them. As of right now, I don’t plan on posting any more signs. I hope that other students follow my lead and start making more signs. I have just scratched the surface and I hope that other students will voice their opinions.”

De La Torre said she likely won’t post more signs, but she hopes others will follow suit.

“I was hoping that all students — minorities and non-minorities alike — would feel better at school,” she said. “I was hoping that i would help them feel safe, accepted, and supported amidst this shock and fear that this election has brought.”

Staff writer Jessica Johnson contributed to this report.

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