Middle East studies in the News
Hundreds of Students March in Westwood to Protest Trump's Inauguration [incl. Gabriel Piterberg]
by Jeong Park and Daniel Maraccini
About 250 protesters flooded the streets of Westwood after President Donald Trump took the oath of office Friday.
The crowd gathered in front of Powell Library before marching down Westwood Boulevard to its intersection with Wilshire Boulevard. Many held signs with portraits of Trump with his mouth covered by paint, with "stop racism" and "stop sexism" written on the bottom. Some drivers honked to express frustration while others supported the protesters as they occupied the intersection for about five minutes.
The protest was one of many across the country organized in response to the presidential inauguration. Even with heavy rain, thousands of protesters rallied at Los Angeles City Hall, and about 70,000 protesters are expected to attend the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. Organizers of the Women's March have said the event was a response to Trump's campaign rhetoric about women, ethnic minorities and religion.
Many University of California campuses, including UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, also held protests.
Trump's election has provoked strong reactions from the UCLA community, including a protest attended by thousands immediately after the election.
Sarah Harianja, a fourth-year physiological science student, said the election motivated her to take action.
"For a while, I just stood back," Harianja said. "I'm more of a pacifist, but I've learned that sitting down is not the answer. You have to stand up and fight back because if you don't say anything, then nothing will change."
The protest had fewer props than the protest on election night, in which someone burned a Donald Trump pinata. But the protesters' sentiments were much the same: anxiety, fear, disbelief, defiance and solidarity.
"For me when I go to protests, it reminds me that there are other people who feel how I do," said Jada Banks-Mace, a second-year psychology student. "Without going to protests, I'd be keeping a lot of my emotions inside, and that's not good."
Many expressed fear Trump would not respond to them if they did not protest, pointing out the Republican Party's majorities in both houses of Congress.
"Protesting is the last checks and balances we have," said Anastacia Kellogg, a third-year English student.
Eyal Li, a second-year environmental science student, said he hopes to hold Trump accountable at the ballot box.
"Because Trump is now our president, he works for the people, for me," Li said. "If he doesn't do his job well, then me as his boss is not going to be happy."
Some protesters also directed their frustration and anger toward subjects other than Trump.
Zeke Trautenberg, a head steward for United Auto Workers Local 2865 and a graduate student in Spanish and Portuguese, called on the UC to actively resist Trump.
Trautenberg said he wants the UC to declare itself a sanctuary university, in which local law enforcement do not assist in a deportation of undocumented immigrants. After the election, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a creation of a task force to protect undocumented students.
The University released a statement of principles in November emphasizing university police would not assist federal officials in enforcing immigration law, among other protections.
Some protesters, including Trautenberg, also linked Trump's inauguration to the controversy around professor Gabriel Piterberg. Students have criticized UCLA's decision to allow Piterberg to teach despite being accused of sexual harassment and assault.
The protest was mostly peaceful, save for a verbal confrontation as a Trump supporter shouted "Make America great again" while a protester called the supporter irrelevant.
Gary Shahinyan, a second-year psychology student and another Trump supporter who watched the protest, said he thinks it is hard to organize a conservative protest because it would quickly get shouted down.
He added he thinks the protesters' response to the supporter who shouted Trump's slogan shows some protesters don't respect productive dialogue.
Shahinyan, whose parents immigrated from Armenia, said he hopes the protesters recognize the positive aspects of living in the U.S.
"This is a country where you can be a 4-year-old and yell," he said.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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