“Hey, hey, let’s be clear. Donald Trump’s not welcome here!” chanted a group of students on College Green, hours after the inauguration of 1968 Wharton alum Donald Trump as president of the United States.
At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, a group of about two dozen Penn students gathered in front of the Benjamin Franklin statue on College Green as part of a walkout organized by Penn Students for a Democratic Society to protest the inauguration. Trump’s ascension to the White House is the first time a Penn graduate has attained the highest political office in the country.
Engineering senior Ava Lipatti said she organized the walkout to encourage students to fight against attacks against marginalized groups, such as the racist GroupMe that targeted black freshmen. Lipatti said the GroupMe and other similar incidents were direct consequences of Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections.
“Get involved with something,” Lipatti said. “We really need to start now.”
Member of SDS and a Graduate Student in mathematics, Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said the group organized the walkout to express apprehension at what the Trump administration and agenda meant for the United States.
“Donald Trump is not different, not apart from America,” Schaffer-Cohen said. “He’s maybe the worst of America.”
Schaffer-Cohen further emphasized the importance of activism and mobilization against what they felt were discriminatory sections of Trump’s agenda, in a speech given to the crowd at College Green.
“So the next step is on the streets. When Donald Trump and his legions of darkness come to our campus and to our city, they need to know they’re not welcome,” Schaffer-Cohen said. “And it doesn’t end there. We are here to help each other, and not just with Facebook statuses.”
The objectives expressed in the speech were reflected in the audience’s loud chanting of “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” and, “Donald Trump go away! Racist, sexist, anti-gay!”
Some students expressed disappointment about the limited number of people who participated in the walkout. Nursing sophomore Du’aa Moharram said she felt slightly discouraged at the sight of the small crowd but could understand why more students had not taken part in the event.
“I understand that not many of us have emotionally processed what’s been going on in the past few weeks,” Moharram said. “The emotional urgency isn’t there like it was after the election.”
However, others felt encouraged by seeing that some were willing to mobilize to protest injustice towards marginalized groups. College sophomore Zach Rissman said the message the group was sending out by holding the walkout was one of unity.
“I was really sad and really scared,” Rissman said. “And then I became hopeful and I think that’s really important for us — to be hopeful.”