Berkeley braces for Trump presidency

Goldia Kiteck/Senior Staff

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ASUC Senator Benyamin bin Mohd Yusof has been looking forward to Friday’s teach-ins and walkout since returning to campus from winter break.

From “Reading for Resistance Poetry Reading” to “Recognizing and Addressing Unconscious Bias,” Yusof has his pick of more than 30 teach-ins led by graduate students across campus. UAW Local 2865, the union that represents 16,000 UC student workers, organized this universitywide demonstration in protest of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“We, of course, fully support the right of students and others to gather and protest,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “We are anticipating a peaceful event.”

The first teach-in of the day, “Imagining Otherwise: Making Education Our Own,” will start at 8 a.m. Teach-ins will take place throughout the morning and end about noon.

“We are not trying to stop education for the day,” said Margaret Mary Downey, unit chair for the UC Berkeley unit of UAW Local 2865. “We are trying to emphasize that this is a time where people are coming together to educate each other.”

David Landreth, campus associate professor of English, also believes that the teach-ins provide students with a unique educational opportunity and respects his GSIs’ decision to cancel their discussions. Landreth said in an email that he encouraged students to attend the sessions they find interesting should they be free Friday.

“What excites me most about it is we have faculty that are willing to emphasize the importance of engaging with students about contemporary issues, understanding that our education here extends beyond our interaction with them at the classroom,” Yusof said.

David Craig, treasurer for Berkeley College Republicans, said one of his classes was cancelled because of the protest. Craig said he thinks that professors who are cancelling class are depriving students who voted for Trump the education they paid for, and they should instead protest in their spare time as private citizens.

Craig also said he believes students are free to express their disagreement with the president-elect by walking out and attending the teach-ins, but he added that even if people are unhappy with the election results, they should respect the centuries-old system under which Trump won.

protestsproul_eepstein_ssIn addition to the inauguration protest, UAW Local 2865 spokesperson Scott Lerner said the union is calling on UC administration to comply with a list of demands, which includes denouncing Trump’s government, fully demilitarizing UC campuses and democratizing the UC Board of Regents.

According to Downey, a rally will take place on Sproul Plaza after the teach-ins end at noon. It will feature speakers from the faculty and representatives from campus organizations such as the Muslim Students Association and the Black Student Union.

Once the rally finishes about 1 p.m., Downey said the group will walk to Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland, where Black youth will be speaking at an event.

“On this day, we are going to inaugurate the resistance,” Downey said. “We are going to be marching down Telegraph Avenue rain or shine.”

BAMN will also attend the rally and march to Oakland, according to BAMN national organizer Yvette Felarca. Among the changes that a Trump presidency could potentially bring, Felarca said she was concerned about the impact his term could have on students in Berkeley who are utilizing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Yusof, who is an undocumented immigrant, also expressed worry regarding the protection of DACA students. UC Office of the President spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez, however, affirmed in an email the university’s dedication to protecting students’ private information.

“We are very clear that we are not turning university police into surrogate immigration agents, and we’re not going to be voluntarily turning over student records,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a Jan. 6 interview.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin said he has his own concerns with Trump in office and is apprehensive about how Trump’s statements and promises will affect Berkeley citizens.  

“We will fight the Trump administration and any effort to undermine the civil rights and civil liberties of our citizens, and we will remain a sanctuary city,” Arreguin said.

Although Alan Ross, a campus political science lecturer, said he cannot completely predict the trajectory of Trump’s presidency, he believes that both the state and Berkeley will continue policies that do not align with Trump’s agenda, while other states will synchronize with Washington, D.C.

Ross is particularly troubled by growing polarization within the nation and the lack of efforts to bridge the gulf through open dialogue on both sides, which includes listening to Trump supporters who felt abandoned and ignored by the Democratic Party.

“I think now is the time to speak out … and support any organizations or issues that are meaningful, and not just oppose Trump,” Ross said. “Just being in opposition is not going to make things better.”

Fionce Siow covers student life. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @fioncesiow.