Over 300 students gathered in Pulver Pavilion last Thursday to protest the election and to take a stand against hate, bigotry and injustice. Students marched from Pulver to Miller Library where they gathered in a show of solidarity and support for undocumented students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students.
Following the election of the Donald Trump, a polarizing and widely unpopular figure on campus, student members of the Pugh Community Board decided that action had to be taken on campus. Prior to Thursday’s protest, students and faculty signed a letter, dated November 16, to President David A. Greene and the Colby Administration to name Colby a sanctuary campus. The letter was signed by 113 faculty members and over 70 students. The letter was submitted to the College’s general announcements system multiple times by John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History, Elizabeth Leonard. Leonard, who is currently on sabbatical, serves as the Faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.
Greene sent an all-campus email on November 21, publicly declaring Colby’s support of undocumented students, yet, stopped short of naming Colby a sanctuary campus. The email stated: “I can assure you that we will do all in our power to secure the safety of our community members, no matter their nationality, immigration status, race, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity, and that we will fight policies that run counter to our mission of educating the most talented students from across the country and around the world.”
Greene was one of 150 College Presidents who signed a statement released by Pomona College declaring the signees support of the DACA Program and commitment to their undocumented students. Every NESCAC school was represented on the statement.
Following the letter organized by Leonard and other faculty, Liz Paulino ’18 and Chloe Powers ’19 spearheaded the student response to the election. In an interview with the Echo, Paulino commented that her and Powers were Inspired by protests at Bates College and Bowdoin College, Paulino and Powers organized a class walkout to accompany the march
The class walkout took place at 11:45am. According to Colby Student Government Association Vice President and member of the Academic Affairs Committee, Jenner Foster ’17, approximately 850 students have class during that period. According to many students, faculty members ended class early to allow students to attend the protest. Kyndhal Stewart ’19, participated in the walk out alongside her professor. “My Professor, [Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies] Rabbi [Rachel] Isaacs, ended class early and was out the door before students were,” commented Stewart. According to Stewart, students were surprised and did not know how to react following the walkout. “Many students were nervous to walk out as they had never participated in any protest before,” said Paulino. She continued, “There are lots of people on campus who have never participated in these programs, but are very passionate.”
Stewart had intended to participate in the walkout, citing personal reasons: “Personally. I believe in standing in solidarity with and standing up for the rights of other people. As someone from Texas, I have a lot of friends who are undocumented and are now questioning their safety at school and in general. And I wanted to support them.”
Paulino commented that one motivation of the protest was to encourage passionate students to participate in activism: “For me there is a lack of student activism on campus… we need to really encourage its presence on Colby’s campus.” Paulino, worked alongside the Administration when planning the walkout and march, collaborating with the Office of the Provost’s and Dean of Faculty and the Office of the Dean of the College to ensure that students who participated did not experience unforeseen consequences. “You have to know the rules in order to break them,” commented Paulino.