On November 9, hundreds of students protested the election of Donald Trump in a grassroots “Rally for the People.” The organizers of this demonstration used it as an opportunity to make demands to the university – demands the university should respond to.
During the rally, an exchange between activist and fifth-semester UConn student Eric Cruz Lopéz and Chief Diversity Officer Joelle Murchison, saw Lopéz request an official response to the student-specified objectives from the administration before November 11 at 5 p.m. This reply came in the form of an email on November 10, sent from the Office of Student Affairs. The statement, in the eyes of those gathered on November 9, was ineffective; however, further, previously planned action was delayed, such as a potential sit in, because the university answer began a necessary dialogue.
In a letter to the editor submitted by seventh-semester human development and family studies major Farzana Zubair on behalf of the “Rally for the People,” demands were laid out for the university to consider.
First, by December 1, an official press release meant to “outline exactly how the university will strategize for a safer university for marginalized groups.” Zubair’s letter said this should be for the general public to see, not just the UConn community.
Second, by December 1, the university is also obligated to “release an action plan on how to deal with the deportation of a student and how the university will support the student.” The demand stipulated that this should ultimately come in the form of a link on the admissions webpage.
Third, “The university will move toward becoming a legal sanctuary for undocumented students, refugees and their families.”
The final demand stipulated university divestment in products made from prison labor on campus, because, “By investing in these products, the university has chosen to ignore the larger societal structures that affect communities of color.” There is no specified deadline yet for this demand.
The university should acknowledge the students requests, and advise students on the best methods for accomplishing their goals - whether that be by working in partnership with UConn, writing to their state representatives and senators or petitioning.
Connecticut Students for a Dream and those involved with the planning of the “Rally for the People” deserve credit for standing up for what they believe in and exercising their right to freedom of expression.