UB students protest Trump’s travel ban executive order
Hundreds of UB students gathered in freezing cold temperatures on Friday holding signs that encouraged solidarity, waving flags of their native countries and chanting “No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA.”
Students gathered outside of O’Brian Hall from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. to protest President Donald Trump’s recent travel ban executive order. The executive order suspended issuing travel visas for seven Muslim-majority countries, suspended the U.S. refugee program and stopped Syrians from entering the country for 120 days. Black Law Student Association (BSLA) and Muslim Student Association (MSA) held the protest to promote solidarity on campus. One hundred and twenty two UB students and 20 staff members and employees are affected by the travel ban.
The protest began outside of O’Brian Hall and continued into the Student Union Lobby.
A few Trump supporters also began a counter-protest, holding up signs that read “Make America Great Again.”
Many students who attended the rally asked for their names to be concealed, out of fear for their immigration status.
“[My family and friends] are saddened because they’ve all been here doing research and studies, are graduate students and now they all feel imprisoned here and have no rights to say how they feel,” said an Iranian student at the protest who wished to remain anonymous. “They’re all desperate feeling like they cannot continue education, they cannot follow their dreams in a land that is a well-known land for freedom, opportunities and democracy. They all feel like they’re harmed by these undemocratic orders which are affecting them all”
University police were dispersed around the protesters to ensure the protest did not get out of hand. Eight officers, two lieutenants and two police chiefs were present at the protest, according to Joshua Sticht, UPD Deputy Chief of Police.
“These kinds of things sometimes inspire counter protests so that’s why we’re here to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Sticht said. “I’m proud to see that our 15-16 year history of nonviolent protests is staying alive here.”
Sticht said because there are several student organizations, they must follow guidelines set by Student Life when they protest.
Nabeel, a freshman biomedical sciences major who did not want his last name disclosed, said although the rally has been labeled an anti-Trump rally, he wasn’t just protesting against Trump.
“What I’m protesting is the division that he’s causing. I feel as the president, your main job is to unify the people of your country and I feel that Trump is not doing a good job with that,” he said. “I want the theme of this protest to be towards unity. It’s important to recognize that half of our nation voted for Trump so you can’t use a broad brush and paint every Trump supporter as evil or bigoted or sexist. It’s important to be open minded but that being said, the executive orders that he’s issuing lately can’t go without a protest.”
Nabeel is Bangladeshi and said there was “a very large possibility” that Bangladesh could have been on the list of banned countries. He said he understands Trump issued the ban to combat radical Islam, but finds the executive order to be “very irrational.”
“Through the government, it’s going to be very hard to get anything done so what I’ve realized is that change will start with small things like protest like these and then hopefully we can see a broader change because with the government being completely Republican right now, if there is no voice from the citizens, then Trump really has nothing stopping him,” he said.
Nabeel decided to attend the protest because he stands for justice and feels these executive orders go against justice.
UB students from several other cultures attended the protest.
Anuli Okoye-Oyibo, a senior chemistry major, feels it shouldn’t matter if her skin is brown or tan and that all Americans deserve equal treatment.
“I felt the need to come here today because I don’t understand what line draws an immigrant,” Okoye-Oyibo said. “My parents are immigrants. I’m a second-generation immigrant. I still consider myself an immigrant. I’m Nigerian and proud. I’ll be damned if someone else wasn’t allowed to come here. How can you have your Green Card and not be called a citizen? Because I watch Al Jazeera? Because I watch Univision? That makes no sense. We’re just as American as you.”
A protest entitled “No Ban. No Wall. Rally for Immigrant Refugee & Muslim Solidarity” is taking place on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Columbus Park.
“Even though Donald Trump won, we have to stay together, we have to stay in motion. We have to put our values out there to make sure that people know what Americans stand for and also to stay strong to not allow any hate to seep down in,” said Dillon Smith, a senior political science and economics major.
Ashley Inkumsah is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org