Hun­dreds gather at Tow­son U. to call for tol­er­ance after elec­tion

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Pamela Wood The As­so­ci­ated Press and Baltimore Sun Me­dia Group re­porter Me­gan Brock­ett con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

Sev­eral hun­dred stu­dents joined fac­ulty mem­bers at Tow­son Univer­sity’s Free­dom Square on Mon­day to ex­press their feel­ings about the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent — and to ex­hort oth­ers to work for so­cial jus­tice and equal­ity.

Tak­ing turns at a mi­cro­phone, stu­dents re­lated con­cerns about dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of race, eth­nic­ity, re­li­gion or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion — and many said they fear a Trump presidency will make things worse.

The rally was or­ga­nized by the So­cial Jus­tice Col­lec­tive, a group of fac­ulty mem­bers that works with stu­dent groups. Or­ga­niz­ers re­served the space; ad­min­is­tra­tors made clear it was not a uni­ver­si­tyspon­sored event.

Ni­cole Fabri­cant, a pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy and an­thro­pol­ogy, said she hoped the event would in­spire stu­dents to be­come en­gaged and em­brace peo­ples’ dif­fer­ences.

“There’s an education that needs to hap­pen here on cam­pus,” she said.

The rally drew a di­verse crowd, in­clud­ing white stu­dents who said they wanted to do more to ad­vo­cate for equal­ity.

But some ex­pressed frus­tra­tion. Sa­raubi Har­ri­son, a ju­nior from Wash­ing­ton who is black, ad­dressed Trump sup­port­ers.

“I don’t care about your feel­ings,” she said. “I don’t care if I make you un­com­fort­able, be­cause you de­cided that you were so self­ish you didn’t want to share your priv­i­lege with the rest of our mi­nori­ties that you voted for this [ex­ple­tive].”

That drew an ex­ple­tive in re­turn from a white male stu­dent in the crowd, which led to a com­mo­tion and some stu­dents yelling at each other. Tow­son Univer­sity Po­lice Chief Bernie Gerst stepped in and sep­a­rated peo­ple. A chant broke out: “It is our duty to fight for our free­dom!”

Har­ri­son, a com­puter science and crim­i­nal jus­tice ma­jor, said later she hoped the rally would prompt in­tro­spec­tion among white stu­dents.

“I hope that after to­day, they’ll be will­ing to jump out there and be a real ally and not just say you’re one,” she said.

Elyshia Asel­tine, an­other pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy and an­thro­pol­ogy with the So­cial Jus­tice Col­lec­tive, said such dis­cus­sions are im­por­tant, be­cause some in­ter­pret a lack of con­ver­sa­tion on cam­pus as “ac­qui­es­cence” to racism.

“Ahuge part of this is there’s a lot of fear,” she said.

Mitch Lan­non, a ju­nior busi­ness ma­jor who wore a Trump cam­paign shirt, sat on a brick wall in the square as the rally wound down. He ques­tioned the pur­pose of ral­ly­ing now that the elec­tion is over.

“Ev­ery­body needs to come to­gether and stop the huge di­vide in the na­tion,” Lan­non said. “In­stead of go­ing against your pres­i­dent, why not help and make the coun­try bet­ter?”

Taylor James, Tow­son’s stu­dent gov­ern­ment pres­i­dent, said she was proud of stu­dents who spoke up.

“It’s hard to bring peo­ple from op­po­site sides to­gether,” said James, a se­nior. “It’s go­ing to be hard, but we’ll get through it.”

Tow­son Univer­sity Pres­i­dent KimSchatzel did not at­tend the rally and de­clined a re­quest for com­ment. In a state­ment, univer­sity spokesman Ray Feld­mann said the univer­sity “re­mains com­mit­ted to its re­lent­less pur­suit of a di­verse and in­clu­sive cam­pus and will not tol­er­ate dis­crim­i­na­tion of any kind.”

The Tow­son rally was one of sev­eral in Mary­land on Mon­day. In An­napo­lis, about 30 peo­ple marched through down­town dur­ing an evening protest against Trump.

AMY DAVIS/BALTIMORE SUN

Alexan­dra Waller, cen­ter, and Des­tiny Collins, arms raised, are among the stu­dents gath­ered at Tow­son Univer­sity’s Free­dom Square to voice their opin­ions about Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and to call for a greater em­pha­sis on so­cial jus­tice and tol­er­ance.

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