The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center will host The People’s Inauguration event to reinforce the inclusive values of the University of Connecticut community. It will be held on Jan. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Konover Auditorium.
“The People’s Inauguration is designed to affirm the values they believe create the UConn community that they would like to belong to,” Dr. Glenn Mitoma, director of the Dodd Center and assistant professor of human rights and education, said.
The event will consist of a series of readings, songs, performances and other kinds of remarks by UConn students, faculty and any other members of the larger UConn community.
“We didn’t want to make people sit and be talked at by an expert (or) feel like they had to make specific speeches that addressed the incoming administration,” Mitoma said. “(We wanted to) allow people to pick something meaningful to them and express their deeply-held beliefs.”
Mitoma said that he and several other faculty members began planning this event over the winter break, making it a collaborative effort between the Dodd Center, el Instituto, the Human Rights Institute, the Humanities Institute, the Student Coalition for Social Justice and numerous other organizations.
“(This event will) demonstrate solidarity and the values the campus has that, it seems, the U.S. is not presenting right now,” Rebecca Kaufman, secretary and a founder of the Student Coalition for Social Justice and sixth-semester political science and human rights double major, said.
The event will hopefully relieve some of the concern members of the UConn community have expressed about Trump’s administration, Mitoma said.
“(The event) is a response to the anxieties that many of our students and other members of the community have expressed, as well as some of the incidences of bias, bigotry and hate,” Mitoma said. “(We) thought it was an important moment to reaffirm that UConn is a different kind of place that isn’t going to tolerate those kind of actions.”
The event is a way to create a safe space and sense of community for those in the UConn community, Mitoma said.
“Part of it (the inspiration for the event) was driven from the fact that on election night, I felt a bit alone,” Mitoma said. “I watched the results alone in my house and was not happy with those results, but it was compounded by the fact that I wasn’t with the people who I knew I shared similar values with.”
The event also serves as an opportunity for those who cannot make it to Washington D.C., either for Trump’s inauguration or for the marches of protest that have been organized, a chance to voice their beliefs, Mitoma said.
“We recognized that most of us wouldn’t have the opportunity to (go to DC), so we thought it would be worthwhile to have an alternative space for people to come together and feel a sense of community,” Mitoma said.
The event is directed towards all members of the UConn community, Mitoma said.
“It’s not only for students,” Mitoma said, “We tried to pitch it as inclusively as possible to the UConn community, which includes students first and foremost, but also faculty, staff, administration… really anybody who shares a sense of loyalty and connection with UConn.”
Mitoma said he hopes to have between 20 and 25 people participating in the event as well as a substantial audience in attendance. People can sign up ahead of time online or at the Dodd Center at the day of the event.
“I hope that students will go if they are interested in learning about the political process and grassroots activism and seeing how their peers are engaging in activism on campus,” Kaufman said.
“We recognized a need to affirm that, regardless of the direction national policy takes, UConn is a community that is inclusive, that upholds the values of fundamental human rights and equal dignity for all, and that we remain on Jan. 20 essentially the same university we were on Jan. 19,” Mitoma said.