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Hokies Don’t Hate: No Ban No Wall Solidarity Rally

Whether as a frostbitten face in the crowd or onlooker with pocketed hands shuffling by N Main Street, you will have noticed the some 500-strong crowd of community activists, students and faculty who gathered on Henderson Lawn this past Monday evening in solidarity of recent immigration and refugee bans.

More specifically, the crowd gathered in reaction to President Trump’s recent actions halting the movement of immigrants into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries for the next 90 days and suspension of admission of all refugees for 120 days. Hardly ignorable as its effects are immediate and far-reaching, the bans face considerable criticism.

Despite the icy temperatures, the Blacksburg community gathered actively to represent certain values and to collectively make their voices heard. Occurring ten days after the Blacksburg Coalition for Justice hosted the Blacksburg Inaugurate Resistance March & Vigil, the No Ban No Wall Solidarity Rally represented the following message, as seen on the event’s Facebook page:

We care about our immigrant, refugee and undocumented friends and neighbors. We care about the students, faculty and staff who may also be impacted by the recent slew of xenophobic executive orders.

Virginia Tech is an institution that prides itself on certain principles, and President Sands is a clear advocate for this in a recent email to students and faculty dating Sunday, January 29th, 

“Consistent with our Principles of Community, we will continue to do all that we can to support and advocate for the international members of our community who are vital to our mission. They are welcomed and cherished members of our community, regardless of immigration status, national origin, religion, or citizenship.”

Incoming freshmen are asked repeatedly, “What’s a Hokie?” to which “I am” is echoed back without true reverberation of what that wholly embodies. As Hokies, we yield to a higher standard of inclusivity and community. Regardless of religious and political leaning, race, ethnicity or cultural background, we are all united as Hokies. We are part of this loving community, and we must be reminded of such unifying ties in face of adversity. 

The gathering traveled from Henderson Lawn to the Pylons, where the sky hushed into fading shades of grey, but the voices continued to project with purpose across the Drillfield. 

Audrey Decker, a Graduate student studying Computer Science: “I have a lot of Muslim friends and this is affecting them already and pretty intensely, so I just wanted to do something and make my voice heard.”

(Pictured left to right, Students Samya and Shriti) 

Samya Ahmad, Class of 2020, Business Undecided: “I came here because I’m a Muslim, and I believe that people judge one Muslim’s actions on the entire population, and there’s a billion of us out there. We are all really good people, and we need to spread our message. Everyone should love everyone, and there should be no hate.”

Shriti Pant, Class of 2020, Neuroscience: “There’s just a lot of things going on in the world and of course in America. I am not a Muslim, but I believe that everyone is equal and in any and every way — we are all human, so it’s important for us to stand up for everyone and voice our beliefs.”

Kaley Roshitsh

Virginia Tech '18

After graduating with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Virginia Tech in 2018, Kaley moved to NYC to start her career with WWD – the authority on the fashion, beauty and retail industries. She is credited with the relaunch of Her Campus at Virginia Tech in 2016, serving as Campus Correspondent for 2 years, building the team to 55+ members while earning multiple Pink chapter level statuses (top-20% of over 330 chapters) and being awarded "Outstanding Organization of the Year" in 2018 at Virginia Tech. Other notable achievements include the annual "Media Mixer" gala and buildout of many strategic content initiatives.
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