Students Protest On-Campus Appearance of Donald Trump Jr.

Students who attended UF during the 2017 Richard Spencer appearance got a dose of déjà vu on Thursday.

At around 4:30 p.m., students began gathering in Turlington Plaza to protest the appearance of Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at the event, “ACCENT Speakers Presents: Donald Trump Jr. & Kimberly Guilfoyle.”

Students gathered in Turlington Plaza anticipating protest. (Photo: Sophia Ahmed)

 

The call for protest began on October 2 when organizers Emily Hyden, Johanna Liuzzo and William Zelin created a Facebook event called “Protest: Say NO to Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle." Hyden and Zelin were among the organizers for a recent protest for getting blue emergency lights placed on Fraternity Row.

Three days later, a list of demands was posted on the event page for immediate release. The demands called for the $50,000 booking fee of Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle be reallocated to recently defunded student organizations; for protection of minority spaces on campus; for ACCENT to create new criteria for choosing speakers and for Student Body President Michael Murphy, ACCENT Speaker Bureau Chair Henry Fair and Student Body Treasurer Santiago Gutierrez to issue individual public apologies for allowing this event to happen because of the stress inflicted upon students. The demands also called for their resignations. A revised version was posted on October 8, which added that the Counseling and Wellness Center should have increased availability to help students in the month after the event and SNAP ride availability should be increased the night of the event.

Organizers later spoke to President Kent Fuchs about their demands. Although some were dissatisfied with the talk with Fuchs, the discussion did reveal that Murphy was the root cause of organizing the event. It has been recently revealed that Murphy’s father donated the maximum amount of money possible to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and is a lobbyist for UF.

Alexandra St. Tellien and Kira Laurent hold signs before the protest began. (Photo: Sophia Ahmed)

 

When the protest, also known as #CHOMPTRUMP, rolled around, organizers along with students from Socialist Alternative, College Democrats, Dream Defenders and Gators Chomp Nazis gathered. They planned to move across the street from Turlington Plaza, next to the University Auditorium where the event was held, and shout during the event in order to drown out Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle’s messages.

Protesters instruct the crowd on chants for the protest and where they will be going. (Photo: Sophia Ahmed) 

 

Christina Pugliese. a speaker in the protest, said it's necessary for students to protest whenever they find injustice in their society.

"We protest because we have to, not because we want to," Pugliese said. "When an issue as important as this one comes up, we have to organize. We have to protect our rights and the rights of our friends."

On the sidewalks on both sides of the street in between Turlington Plaza and University Auditorium, supporters in favor of Trump Jr. were gathering in order to get into the building as soon as possible and heckle the protesters. 

UF College Republicans set up a table for the event, acting as a resource for those attending the show and an advertise for their organization. (Photo: Sophia Ahmed)

 

At a small foldable table on the sidewalk, the UF College Republicans gathered to show their support for the speakers as well. When asked for comment about the reaction from protesters about the event, the president of the organization Jared Rossi, a 21-year-old science senior, said, “It’s expected. This campus is about 60% liberal, 40% republican, and I think that we have freedom of speech in this country, so they’re allowed to do that.”

David Wallace, a 21-year-old political science junior, attends the event in support of Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle.

“I feel like there is no need to protest against the president’s son," Wallace said. "He’s just here to spout his father’s achievements while in office. This event is going to be really bomb. If he wasn’t the son of the president, there would be no protest.”

Hyden, one of the organizers, wanted to make an impact with the protest she helped organize. 

“I’m excited to see all the various people from various areas of campus and the community and even the state coming together to show that we don’t support this on our campus,” Hyden said. “The protest will show that we don’t support the use of our student fees to promote hateful, exclusionary speech."