Students, community members march in solidarity

Protesters stand on the steps of Curtiss Hall and listen to student speakers talk about how the travel ban has affected them during the Hoodies and Hijabs rally on Feb. 9.

“No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!” could be heard throughout campus Thursday afternoon as hundreds of students, faculty, staff and Ames community members gathered in protest.

The rally, dubbed the “Hoodies and Hijabs Solidarity March,” focused on bringing to light the negative effect that President Donald Trump’s travel ban has had on the country and specifically Iowa State community members.

Wesley Harris Jr., graduate student in higher education administration, helped lead the rally, which began at 11 a.m. at the Memorial Union.

“We are here to come together and to have a real conversation about what [the executive order] means and how it directly affects our community,” he said.

Harris was one of the main coordinators for the protest. He described to the crowd the origins of the Hoodies and Hijabs movement and expressed the frustration that he, along with many others, currently feel for what they view as a lack of support from Iowa State for the affected students and faculty.

The purpose of the protest was a “march in solidarity to … bring attention to the interconnectedness of our struggles and … to protest the racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, anti-Black, and otherwise oppressive executive actions of #45 [Trump] and his administration,” according to the Facebook page for the event. 

After beginning at the Memorial Union, the march moved to Curtiss Hall, then to Beardshear Hall, and eventually unified with the “Academic United” protest outside of Parks Library.

Larkin Chapman, sophomore in world languages and culture, attended the march in support of minorities.

“What we need to do is do things like this, show support for the marginalized,” Chapman said. “The greatest stand for people with power is to stand for those who don’t.”

As people marched the walkways of Iowa State’s campus, chants such as “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!” and “The people united will never be divided!” could be heard across Central Campus.

Yasaman Esfandiari, second-year Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, was in attendance at the march and explained why she believes in it and how it makes a difference in her life.

She grew up in Iran, one of the seven banned countries. While making decisions about where to receive her master’s degree, she thought traveling abroad would be a great opportunity.

“If I knew this would happen, I would have, and I know many other people would have changed their minds about coming here,” Esfandiari said. “It’s not fair for us to not be able to rely on the future. Anyone should be able to. I think it’s important people are aware of what this all really means, and that we support each other.”

As the masses were gathered at different points of the rally, people shared personal stories of hardships. Many expressed their frustrations. But what almost every speaker and story had in common was the sense of hope that this new-founded community had brought.

Deb Kline, an Ames community member, was there to show support for those who face oppression.

“I think people who aren’t oppressed need to stand with those that are,” Kline said. She held a sign reading, “C’mon white people! Do better!”

Administrators also spoke at the rally, including Martino Harmon, senior vice president for student affairs, and Faculty Senate President Jonathan Sturm.

After the rally, Harris shared to the event’s Facebook page: “Thank you to everyone who showed up, marched, chanted, and joined in solidarity with us today. It was amazing to look out over the crowd and see so many people shoulder to shoulder in resistance of the executive order and in support of each other.

“Keep Loving! Keep Fighting!”