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25 campuses hold walkouts on Inauguration Day

By Chrisley Carpio

Students everywhere say no to Trump’s agenda

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Tampa, FL – On Jan. 20, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized a nationwide student walkout in protest of President Trump’s inauguration, his racist, xenophobic agenda, and his cabinet choices of millionaires and billionaires. His choices so far promise a four years filled with more war, deportations, the privatization of education, union-busting and threats to the rights of women and LGBTQ people. In over 25 cities around the country, SDS chapters led walkouts of classes and marched under the slogans: “Stop Trump’s Agenda! Education For All! Sanctuary For All!”

These walkouts all differed in size, chants and speakers, but they shared common themes of peace, education, equality and protection from bigotry. SDS members in Chicago, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City pulled hundreds of students out of class and led them to join thousands of protesters in the streets, from 1000 in Salt Lake City to 6000 in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, on large campuses with new SDS chapters, students did the same. They rang in the new year with walkouts and made speeches denouncing President Trump and his agenda of inequality.

At Arizona State University (ASU), SDS members walked out for the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), for protection from deportations for undocumented people, and for ‘direct democracy,’ or the end of the electoral college. According to Fallon Leyba, a leading member of ASU SDS, the protest featured a number of Brown Beret members, undocumented students who rely on DACA to go to school, and mothers of undocumented youth. A group of angry white supremacist counter-protesters attempted to ruin their event, but SDS members and the protest attendees chanted over them, marched and then beat open a Trump-shaped piñata.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, SDS members at Florida International University (FIU SDS), held their first protest ever, where students also demanded a sanctuary campus. They rallied for four hours and gave speeches about how their campus should protect not only undocumented students but students of all genders, sexual orientations and nationalities. Michelle Perez-Helago, the founder of FIU SDS, then went on to state that the event “was a milestone” in their efforts to get enough members to be officially recognized as a student organization on FIU’s campus.

At the University of New Orleans at Lafayette, yet another SDS chapter held their first event on Jan. 20. Their members called for students to empower themselves through walkouts, demonstrations and other examples of non-compliance with administration, police, and agents of Wall Street. One Lafayette SDS member, Michael Benoit, said, “This right here is what moves history, not Trump, not Obama, not anyone too high to face the people. It is right to rebel, and today we begin a fight for the people of the U.S. against Trump and his policies. If we struggle, we will win.”

Lauren Broussard, the founder of Lafayette SDS, spoke in her speech about the failure of investor-driven politicians to solve the problems of students and oppressed people. The answer, she says, lies not in the ballot box, but in the hearts of the people themselves. “Trump is a symptom of a system that has failed us,” Lauren said. “I know this seems small, but every movement starts somewhere. If we unite and persist, we can grow and make real change.”

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