Our Grounds, Our March

To say that many of us were shocked when President Donald Trump won the election would be an understatement. Mixed feelings settled within the UVA community; hate, fear, and gratitude included. Many of the students who opposed Trump’s initial campaign had begun to feel a sense of responsibility, not just to join marches in Washington D.C. or donate to organizations that would fight to protect human rights, but to also bring this urgency to the Wahoo community. We were going to show just how Wahoos take care of one another in our own home.

Trump’s executive order, titled "Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States," motivated students on Grounds to carry out an emergency march. CIOs on Grounds that initiated this march included: Dreamers on Grounds, Minority Rights Coalition, Global Student Council, and University Democrats. The march was called March for Muslim, Immigrant, and Student Rights, and it was intended to show support for other protests around the world. Everyone was encouraged to attend. The march took place at the Rotunda on January 29th and hundreds of people came; students, faculty, and members of the Charlottesville community were all in attendance to show their support for Muslims, immigrants, and those affected by Trump’s executive orders. One of the organizers of the event, student Attiya Latif, reflected on the motivation behind the march:

“What happens in the world affects us, and we need to be aware that there are students at this university that are impacted by this attempted ban. It is time we decided to support and protect one another.”

 

Photo courtesy of Attiya Latif

In addition, representatives from every organization, local community individuals and minority groups spoke about their feelings towards the executive order and how it would affect everyone. Many who went to the march remarked on how inspiring and comforting it was to see such a large amount of people showing support to protect them and their rights. There are multiple reasons why some might have attended the march, be it that they are directly affected by the executive order or have friends that are. Student and Resident Advisor Yaselly Sanchez said:

“The march meant a lot to my friends and others in similar situations and once there, I knew I was practicing my right to mobilize and my right as a citizen, and being there for those who couldn’t.”

 

photo courtesy of Attiya Latif

All those who attended stood in solidarity. Moving forward, there is caution and fear to additional executive orders and what many individuals will face as a repercussion to the orders. Hate speech and violent acts are steadily increasing and becoming more visible as the divide between who is welcome and who is “not” in this country grows. CIOs and students are prepared to continue protesting and mobilizing against these hateful and unlawful decrees. America is the land of the free, the home of the brave, and students at the University of Virginia are prepared to defend those targeted, for our own rights and for others.