Leidy Torres knew she wanted to voice her political opinion as Election Day drew closer, but without U.S. citizenship, she had to make other plans to represent herself.
When Torres was offered the chance to speak at an anti-Trump rally held at the Bell Tower on Nov. 19, she jumped at the opportunity to send a message to her fellow students.
“I needed to do something to make sure my voice was heard somehow,” said Torres, a junior psychology major. “Because even though [Trump] won, it doesn’t mean that we have to just stand back and pray for the best. We have a voice. … It’s very important for us now to stay together.”
Torres spoke at the rally representing the Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos, which functions as the umbrella group for other Latino student organizations on Main Campus. AdEL works to unify Temple’s Latino students with the Latino community in Philadelphia, Torres said.
“I wanted to talk about the importance of being united and the importance of being able to protest, but without having to do it violently,” she said. “We need to protect our community and we need to protect each other.”
Other student organizations, like Temple College Democrats, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Fight for $15, an organization working to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, worked together to organize the student-run rally in opposition of the election of Donald Trump.
Since Election Day, several hate crimes have taken place in the Philadelphia region, including an anonymous target of African-American freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania on GroupMe, a smartphone messaging app.
As rallies and hate crimes continue, some student organizations believe the solution in this current political climate is working together.
“We should be afraid of this rhetoric, not saying that blind fear is good but … when people are saying horrible things about women and black people and immigrants, we need to believe them. When they say horrible things about what they want to happen in this country, I believe that they mean that.”
On Nov. 29, police shut down Broad Street from Girard Avenue to City Hall as protesters streamed down the road, part of a day of action organized by Fight for $15 in which thousands participated in walkouts and protests across the country.
Similar to the City Hall rally, the Main Campus protest focused on showing support among minority groups and other marginalized people, and stressed the importance of unifying under one group, something Torres and other members of Temple’s student organizations think the school needs to do more of.
Martha Sherman, a junior public health major and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance public relations chair, said Temple should partner with more social justice groups like Black Lives Matter and Fight for $15.
“The more disjointed we are, the more we silo ourselves to our own issues,” Sherman said. “If we don’t take an intersectional approach to it, then not as much will get done. We can’t ignore the other issues, because there are Black women and Muslim women in [the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance], and they deal with issues that we need to work on all together.”
As many Trump opposers focused on voicing dissent for the U.S. political system and the president-elect, representatives from various organizations on campus like FMLA stood up at Temple’s rally to remind the crowd that despite its differences, they all share a common goal.
“Throughout history it has been shown that the best way for an oppressor to achieve their goal is to separate everybody by whatever differences they think they have,” Torres added. “If we stay united and look past our differences … then maybe we can get somewhere and make a change.”
Speakers at the Main Campus rally ended on a hopeful note, focusing on the steps Temple’s organizations can take together to help protect marginalized students and promote progressive change.
“Once everyone regrouped [from the election], we’ve been focusing on where can we go from here,” Sherman said.
She added that she believes now more than ever is the time for Temple and its social justice organizations to come together in order to have their voices heard, and to stop the spread of hateful rhetoric.
“We need to be here to support each other, not just in our movement, she added. “But also to recognize that people are here to support you, people are going to stand up against the rhetoric that has been discussed.”
Emily Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.