UC Berkeley professors and senior campus leaders led a rally of more than 400 people on the steps of Sproul Hall at noon Thursday, organizing in light of Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential win.
The rally, announced Wednesday night, was held to reaffirm diversity and inclusion on campus and allow community members to voice their concerns about the election. The demonstration was led by faculty equity advisers, who are appointed in each department to support equity and inclusion.
“People were feeling disempowered and physically threatened. I thought, what can I do?” said campus associate professor Mary Wildermuth, who organized the rally. “We should come together to show students that we support diversity, equality, inclusion — to show that we’re stronger together.”
The rally began with faculty members expressing their disappointment in Trump’s election. Many described their status as immigrants or children of immigrants and spoke out against Trump’s stance on issues such as climate change and LGBTQ+ rights.
Members of the community were then given time to speak about their own feelings regarding Trump’s win.
“We were all woken to the sad reality that structural racism is still alive and strong,” said campus senior Maria Cecilia Perez to the crowd. “The results of this election have ignited a movement against bigotry.”
The crowd included staff and students from UC Berkeley, Berkeley High School and Emery High School, as well as Berkeley residents. Many individuals held signs reading “Cal supports inclusion” and “United against Trump.”
“I’m here today because I believe in respect of all people and that every person matters,” said campus junior Paige Rosenberg. “I believe that we are really strong together and that all these differences that are trying to separate us will bring us stronger.”
Midway through the rally, students from Berkeley High arrived carrying a banner that read “Native Solidarity.” Though the high schoolers didn’t know about the rally, they decided to join when they saw the crowd, according to former Berkeley High student and California State University East Bay student Eva Sanchez.
Sanchez walked through the crowd with a cup of burning herbs and led a demonstration that encouraged the audience to place their right hand on one another’s shoulders.
“I am you and you are me,” Sanchez asked the crowd to repeat. “If I love and respect you, then I’m loving and respecting myself.”
— Chantelle Lee (@ChantelleHLee) November 10, 2016
Members of the Cuauhtli Mitotiani Mexica youth dance group performed a traditional Aztec dance as a closing ceremony for the rally, which ended about 1:30 p.m.
After the rally, more than 60 Muslim students attended an afternoon prayer in front of Sproul Hall at 3:30 p.m. Because of the nature of Trump’s immigration plan and statements about Islam, the prayer session was intended to provide a safe space for Muslim students.
The rally comes after two peaceful protests took place in Oakland and Berkeley on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, respectively, and a third, more violent protest that took place in Oakland Wednesday evening.
BAMN has organized another protest march from Berkeley to Oakland planned for Thursday night.
Contact Sakura Cannestra, Chantelle Lee and Lillian Holmes at [email protected].