On Nov. 9. at 1 p.m., members of the Knox community gathered for an Anti-Trump Rally, led by sophomore Peibulu Koroye.
Opening the floor to a group of over 100 gathered students, Koroye stood on a table on the Gizmo patio, dressed in all black.
“Be angry. Let it drive you. Let it move you,” Koroye said.
The rally started with the microphone being open to all students, who took turns speaking to their fears, hopes, angers and advice for one another. Other students and faculty gathered around the patio, spilling out onto the steps. They cheered, snapped, clapped and cried together.
Senior Parker Adams spoke about how the election results brought back a feeling of fear they experienced when they first came to Galesburg for college.
“It took me so long, so long to get to a place where I wasn’t afraid every time I heard someone at the door because that’s how much I feared for my safety,” Adams said. “[Last night] I was so proud of myself. I was like ‘Oh Parker, you’re gonna sleep good tonight. You’re going to feel comfortable, you’re gonna feel safe, you’re gonna feel happy.’ This morning I heard people at the door and I freaked out again. I’m sick of being in that f***ing place.”
Students expressed their concern for friends and shared early morning conversations with family who warned them not to go to a mosque or told them to “stay safe.” They are concerned about practicing their religion publicly, or loving who they love.
Freshman Claire Mazius spoke on her inability to find safe spaces and how this election has drastically worsened that. “I’m scared to go home, I’m scared to be myself.”
Vice President of Student Development Anne Ehrlich spoke with The Knox Student about the news, and students’ reactions.
“A lot of students have expressed concern about going home, when home might be not a safe place now. They maybe come from families that don’t share the same political view, or towns that scare them,” she said.
Other students spoke on the need for dialogue, for change. They highlighted the fact that this country has been on a long path toward a man like Trump being elected into office.
“Trump is not a cause, he’s a symptom,” sophomore Josh Althoff said. He urged those who are in privileged positions similar to him to do some “heavy lifting,” and to understand people who are different, to embrace diversity and to open a dialogue.
Freshman Eli Nikitinskaya touched on the discussion about students wanting to leave the country and said, “Immigration will not solve the problem.”
She and her family left Russia in 2011 as political refugees, thinking that America would provide them sanctuary. She spoke on how she could leave this country and go anywhere she wants Ñ she speaks four different languages Ñ but no matter where she goes, nothing will change. “He has a head in each separate country.”
President of Knox Conservatives and junior Mark Voreis spoke to TKS about his views on the protest.
“I gotta hope that we can still have amicable dialogue about what’s going on and unite as Americans instead of continuing down the path of extreme polarization that we’ve been on so far,” he said.
After the speakers were done, students formed a line and marched into downtown Galesburg. They chanted together, with Koroye leading with a megaphone. Other students, including seniors Liliana Coelho, Blair MC and Marilyn Barnes ran along the sides of the lines, making sure they crossed streets safely.
The students repeated chants such as, “No justice no peace, no racist police,” “The people, united, we’ll never be divided,” and “F*** Donald Trump.” Members of the Galesburg community showed support by honking their car horns, sticking their fists out their car windows and cheering the march on.
The march disbanded outside SMC, and the students were invited to have an open dialogue in Taylor Lounge, which was open on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. At least two members of the administration were in the lounge all day, responding to students who need to talk. Ehrlich urges students of all political views to know that they have resources available to them.
“I think often the administration gets accused of just saying words for political sake or because we ‘have to.’ And that was certainly my concern when Dean of College Laura [Behling] and I were writing our email. So when we said every single member on this campus is a part of the campus community, we mean it, and I want students to hear it,” she said.
She also encourages students to listen to one another during this time.
“But pushing [conservatives] away and silencing them doesn’t change anything, it just pushes it away. So this is why we have to figure out how to have dialogue so people can actually hear the impact their views have on each other, and maybe change.”
Students who protested Trump made sure that they were heard loud and clear, and hoped that other students could learn from their experiences.
“Some of y’all have to be quiet for a few years to figure out how y’all gonna be safe,” Adams said. “And for those of y’all who’ve had the privilege to have been that way for a real long time, I hope y’all taking notes.”