Students come together to protest, reflect on Trump’s victory

  • Smith College Interim Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Matilda Cantwell offers a benediction at the conclusion of a noon-time gathering of the Smith community at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton on Wednesday. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kia Brown, a Smith College Residence Life area coordinator, is embraced by a Smith student at the entrance to John M. Greene Hall where the college community gathered at noon on Wednesday to absorb Tuesday's election. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith College Provost and Dean of Faculty Katherine Rowe speaks during a gathering of the Smith community on Wednesday at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith College junior Aminata Ka offers her post-election thoughts during a gathering of the Smith community at John M. Greene Hall on Wednesday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith College seniors Nina Merriam, left, and Maureen Leonard embrace before the start of a post-election gathering of the Smith community on Wednesday at John M. Greene Hall in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Smith College seniors Cassie Eurich, left, and Liza Manarjan listen as Donna Lisker, at podium, dean of the college and vice president for campus life, welcomes the Smith community to a gathering in John M. Greene Hall, Wednesday, in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 11/9/2016 11:27:56 PM

AMHERST — Hundreds of University of Massachusetts Amherst students marched through campus Wednesday afternoon with a loud, repeated response to the election of Donald Trump as president: “Love trumps hate.”

Some held signs as they chanted that message, used by the now-fallen campaign of Hillary Clinton. Other slogans included “This is what democracy looks like,” while at least one onlooker disagreed with the direct action: “Trump won, get over it!” he yelled.

The scenes that played out in videos posted by Amherst Wire illustrated an idea that reverbated across the Five Colleges — for many of the Valley’s progressive students, backing down after the GOP victory was out of the question. The impromptu protest was one of many official and unofficial events scheduled at the colleges following the cataclysmic defeat by Trump of Clinton, who was widely believed to have an all-but-assured victory. Another rally, “UMass Combats Hatred: Trump Must Go,” will be held Friday at 1 p.m. on the Goodell lawn (behind the Old Chapel).

Smith College took a more subdued, pensive approach. More than 1,000 gathered at John M. Greene Hall at noon to participate in an open discussion led by Donna Lisker, dean of the college, and Provost/Dean of Faculty Katherine Rowe.

“I heard from many in the community that they woke up today feeling unsafe,” Lisker said. “Students, please know that we are here in support.”

Lisker’s comments proved to set the stage for remarks by students, faculty and others in the community: Despite the fear felt by some, including those in marginalized groups, sticking together can provide some solace.

Rowe said the college can come together with what it does best — teaching and learning — to help accelerate social change following Trump’s election. She said she’s already putting together a faculty panel discussion to go over the election and its aftermath.

Although the country has recovered from other unfavorable political events and has been able to move forward with healthy disagreement, she said, Trump’s Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, homophobia and other prejudices are different.

Those who do not support Trump must ensure that bigotry does not continue to become “the new normal,” Rowe said.

A senior student who identified herself only as Jan recognized that as a cisgender straight person she probably has “the least to lose in this election.”

“But I am devastated by it,” she said. And to those in marginalized groups, she said, “I am truly, truly sorry that this happened. I’m sorry your country let you down today.”

As community members lined up to speak, boxes of tissues passed among audience members, many of whom were weeping.

First-year student Maggie Sellers said she’s shocked and scared at what the country might look like over the next four years. But that doesn’t mean that Smith students and others should stand by and do nothing, and she issued a call to action.

“Trump may have won the election, but he hasn’t won the right to run our lives,” she said. They should do what Smithies do best — take the unofficial “hell-raising 101” course.

Others echoed that call, including junior Aminata Ka, a Muslim from Senegal.

“I believe in something stronger than this one man,” she said. “Keep believing what you believe in and fight for it.”

Following receipt of the news, Ka’s parents asked her if she’d like to return home. “I said no, I don’t want to give up,” she said.

As for her hijab, Ka said she plans to “wear it until the day I die.”

Chris Lindahl can be reached at

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