Geneseo students gathered in front of the Integrated Science Center for the Solidarity Rally on Friday Feb. 24 with the goal of providing a place for marginalized voices to be heard, of stimulating a cross-campus conversation and of combating the emerging fears of the impact of the Trump presidency.
The rally began at around 3:30 p.m. with participants mingling and displaying signs. Afterward, students marched around the campus, down University Drive, then toward the MacVittie College Union before returning to the ISC by way of Sturges Quad. Throughout the event, protestors chanted various phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Impeach Trump.” Approximately 110 people attended the event.
The rally was organized by three students who formed the group “Not Our President Geneseo.” The students—including international relations major junior Drew Arnum, communication major freshman Sabrina Rendón and international relations major freshman Anna Moggia-Palzer—placed flyers around the school and reached out to various clubs to advertise the rally.
Moggia-Palzer said that after this rally, she hopes that people feel like there is a safe place for them to voice their views and that people feel more unified.
“We wanted everyone to feel united. We definitely didn’t want people to feel like they can’t come join whether they’re a Republican or conservative,” she said. “We want people’s voices to be heard. We don’t want people to feel afraid.”
Multiple students said that they attended the Solidarity Rally because of their dissatisfaction with the Trump administration, including mathematics major sophomore Jack McAlevey. McAlevey is concerned about Trump’s arbitrary use of executive power.
“Trump does not at all have a mandate to make these widespread, harsh executive orders on things like immigration where even though he does have support, the majority of the American public is not on board.”
Students are also concerned about the administration’s response to recent hateful events on campus. International relations major freshman Juan Mendez doubts the effectiveness of campus-wide emails, reiterating the college’s values of diversity; Mendez hopes to see more action taken by the administration in the future.
“I feel like they kind of have done something, but not to the extent that it’s actually valid,” he said. “They can send out all the emails they want, but if there’s no change, there’s no change.”
After marching, protesters noticed a small group of students standing in front of the library holding a Trump flag. Some protestors went over to the counter-protestors and argued briefly. None of those involved in this confrontation wanted to comment on the record.
French adolescent education major freshman Emily Cecala believes that despite this interaction with Trump supporters, the rally was overall a success.
“Generally, the day has been really good since a lot of people came together and a lot of people told their stories,” she said. “It makes us realize why we need to do this. That skirmish happened and it’s almost to be expected, but I think we dealt with it really classily and I think more good came out of it than bad.”
Mendez said that he feels that rallies like these are necessary in voicing student opinions and uniting the campus-community.
“We need to speak out against what we don’t like in Trump’s administration about his policies and what he’s planning on doing,” he said. “While his administration has divided our country, it is uniting us as communities and it’s empowering us to speak out and show him that we don’t want his policies or the way he’s treating our country.”
Staff writer Jeanmarie Ryan contributed to this article.