The University of Rhode Island held a rally on Wednesday afternoon against newly elected President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The goal of the rally was to “Join in a gathering to affirm [University of Rhode Island] values of acceptance and inclusion, and support for all in our community.”
The rally, which was initially held inside, had to be moved outside in order to accommodate the large attendance. There was a wide range of speakers from students to professors to community members.
“When one Muslim is under attack, we are all under attack,” Acting Director of the Multicultural Student Services Center Karoline Oliveira said “It is unthinkable we are at this place in 2017, it may as well be the 1930s.”
Many of the speakers were student immigrants from other countries who discussed their personal stories about immigration and the sacrifices they have made to be in America. However, not everyone at the rally was in disagreement with the executive order. Undergraduate Sean Daylor spoke about his approval of the executive order. Daylor asked the crowd how many people there who had actually read the executive order and preceded to present quotes from the order.
Likewise, Cameron Williamson, another student, spoke about how the country is consumed with fear and that the filters of Facebook have distorted the executive order’s message.
Other speakers were more vocal in opposing Donald Trump’s presidency. “I would like to say one thing to Donald Trump,” URI senior Chadd Huddon said. “You are not a patriot and you sure as hell don’t define my country.”
Towards the end of the rally there became a focus on direct action outside of the rally. “What are you going to do tomorrow?” Karoline Oliveira said. “When all the cameras go home and recorders turn off, what we will do? How will we define this time? I tremble because I don’t know what we will do, but I know I will be there.”
Jay Walsh, a labor union professional, spoke to provide the next steps forward. Walsh invited everyone at the rally to attend a meeting at the Community College of Rhode Island that night, where he will be presenting a detailed plan to Secondary Education professionals.
Details of his plan include setting up a fund to be able to financially support students affected by the executive order. Other plans include providing informational materials to students and set up immediate actions to provide assistance to students who may become detained.