Just in case you haven’t seen the news recently (or been on UConn’s Facebook page, or spoken to any of your friends…), the College Republicans club invited Lucian Wintrich, a known right-wing blogger who started the #TwinksForTrump hashtag, to campus on Tuesday to give a talk titled “It’s OK to be White.”
I’ll give you a minute to collect yourself from seeing that.
So, students filled the audience to protest and to prevent conservatives from attending. This quickly devolved, and he got arrested for attacking a woman.
Susan Herbst’s response to all this was a bit....lacking. She took nearly two days to respond at all, even though she usually responds to big events within 24 hours. The mass e-mail she eventually sent out said that the university doesn’t support what Wintrich was saying, but they will defend his right to say it.
Understandably, students were frustrated. So frustrated, in fact, that they organized a protest called the March for Action.
Chants included such things as, “Admin silence, this is proven. Do you really love us, Susan?” and “Joelle Murchison, CDO. Why the silence? Where’d you go?” The call for administrative action was loud.
With nearly 200 people in attendance, students marched across campus and then gathered to hear each other stand up and air their grievances. Topics included when it will be okay to be not white, to the fact that they all showed up with less than 24 hours’ notice when Herbst asked students to attend a rally to save UConn, so why couldn’t she show up for this? Her e-mail also claimed that she spoke to students about how to make UConn a more welcoming environment, but the thing was, no one at that rally knew anyone who she had reached out to.
Basically, the administration has been all talk and no action.
After all the speakers spoke on their personal experiences with racism and oppression, and what they hope to achieve moving forward, the topic moved on to the question everyone’s asking nowadays: What can we do next?
First of all, you can show up. One of the biggest ways to can get your voices heard is to attend rallies like this one, and today proved just how powerful that can be.
Students also advocated for coming together and joining groups like Youth for Socialist Action; another suggested there is an open panel with the student body to create a list of demands that we could then pitch to the Undergraduate Student Government and the administration itself.
I’m proud of us Huskies for standing up for what we believe in. I’m proud that so many showed up in support of each other and to stand against hatred. I believe that if we come together, we really can make change happen.
If the administration won’t stand up for us, we’ll stand up for ourselves.