Tampa students, faculty walk out and rally against Trump’s agenda
Tampa, FL – On Jan. 20, 200 students and faculty at the University of South Florida (USF) walked out of their classes to show their anger for the inauguration of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has made it clear that his presidency will be dominated by anti-immigrant, islamophobic, misogynistic, and pro-war policies. The students and faculty that participated in the walkout and rally wanted to send the united message that they will stand against Trump’s bigoted agenda, and with all those affected by it.
The walk-out occurred at 1 p.m. and then the students and faculty gathered in front of Cooper Hall for the rally. The organizers of the event, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), began the protest with chants such as “Trump says go back, we say fight back,” which referenced Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. These chants were followed by speeches from both students and Associate Professor of History Brian Connolly.
In her speech, Jessica Rauckis of Tampa Bay SDS said, “Trump’s agenda is harmful to numerous sections of our population, most notably Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and LGBTQIA+ folk. Trump's policies also embolden hate groups and encourage hate crimes. Many of these crimes will be directed towards students of these targeted groups.”
Rauckis’s statement was proven correct as the event proceeded. Although there was a large group of progressive students, a crowd of pro-Trump students had also gathered around the rally. They attempted to interrupt and end the event by blocking SDS’ banner and signs with their own, and by shouting pro-Trump chants.
As the rally progressed, the Trump supporters became more agitated. Tampa Bay SDS member and emcee of the event, Noah Peretz, was detained after he was assaulted by one of the agitated Trump supporters. While the police took Peretz, in handcuffs, back to his room on campus and threatened to arrest him if he returned to the protest, the Trump supporter was allowed to be on the sidelines of the rally without handcuffs or similar threats. Peretz was not arrested, but he was punished further.
“The police detained both of us but they referred me to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities where I will be processed for ‘disrupting class’ for using a megaphone. This is a clear act of political repression,” said Peretz.
Despite the disruptions by the Trump supporters and the police, the last speech was given by Tampa Bay SDS member Danya Zituni. Zituni urged students to join SDS and stated that, “It is essential that we as students continue to put pressure on our university administrations to not collaborate with deportations, Muslim registries, or any other form of racist targeting or discrimination. If we organize, we can defeat Trump’s agenda!”
SDS ended the event with the chant, “Trump’s agenda isn’t ours – organize for people power.”