Walkout, “Action Fair” Inaugurate Claremont Students to Trump Presidency

Students march south towards Edmunds Ballroom at Pomona College. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

Students from across the Claremont Colleges gathered in front of Honnold/Mudd Library on Inauguration Day, Friday, Jan. 20, to rally against President Donald Trump and his incoming policies.

The walkout was organized by the Claremont chapter of Young Progressives Demanding Action (YPDA), a nationwide organization which partners with Progressive Democrats of America.  According to a flyer sent out about the event, its purpose was to “educate, organize, mobilize, and take action with campus organizations that oppose the Trump Presidency.”

YPDA member Ian Schiffer PO ’17 said that YPDA organized the event to spark dialogue about Trump’s presidency.

Despite the heavy rain, students showed up to listen to several speakers, including Yolanda Gonzalez, who has taught for 25 years at Pomona Unified School District.

Students, ready for the rain, gather outside the Honnold/Mudd library on Friday. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

“We are going to protect our most vulnerable: our students, our undocumented, women, children,” Gonzalez said during her speech.

Another speaker, Emeka Ochiagha PZ ’18, performed an original poem at the rally.

“Stop asking yourself how Trump became president, and ask yourself why these systems allowed it and how do we fix it,” he said during his performance.

Ochiagha used the poem to articulate a sense of hope and a call to arms.

“I think overall the general message is that it’s very scary times, but we need to look to the future,” he said in an interview with TSL.

With organizers leading chants of “the people, united, will never be divided,” students then marched to Pomona’s Edmunds Ballroom to participate in an “action fair”. The fair was in collaboration with ten other campus groups, including the Claremont chapter of Planned Parenthood, the Indigenous Student Alliance, and Prison Abolition Club, as well as the ACLU of Southern California.

Yolanda Gonzalez, a teacher at Pomona Unified School District, speaks to Elliot Dordick PZ '18, right, in Edmunds Ballroom on Friday. (Liam Brooks • The Student Life)

According to Schiffer, YPDA brought these groups together because they are fighting “for actual people and really should be at the forefront of all dialogue on campus.”

The fair raised over $800 to support organizations like the ACLU and the Pomona Opportunity Center. Schiffer said that although this event was successful, there is still more to be done.

“When you think about what we’re against, we’re against Trump. That unifies us. But as progressives, but as people on the left, we need to do a better job of defining what we are for,” he said. “And we’re for protecting undocumented students on campus, we’re for protecting Muslim brothers and sisters on campus, we’re for protecting basic human rights like healthcare and education and things like that.”

YPDA will have their next meeting at the Motley on Tues., Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. According to Schiffer, YPDA’s next actions will focus on involving students and faculty in the fight for intersectional justice.

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