‘No Ban, No Wall’ rally draws support, protest

Freshman speech pathology and audiology and Spanish double major Aylin Chagolla speaks through her tears during the No Ban, No Wall rally and march held in Risman Plaza on Friday, March 10, 2017. “It’s very hard who are against me, my family and international students who are just looking for a better life, they don’t seem to understand the struggle,” said Chagolla.

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

Kent’s Friday afternoon weather wasn’t what many would call ideal. With temperatures in the mid-20s, 15 mph winds and a steady snowfall, much of the Kent State population wasn’t walking along the Esplanade.

However, the frigid conditions did not deter Kent State student demonstrators.

At 2 p.m., protesters gathered on Risman Plaza for a “No Ban, No Wall: Make Kent State a Sanctuary Campus” rally and protest, hosted by the Student Power Coalition (SPC).

Supporters of the rally participated in chants like “Hey Bev, step off it! Put students over profit!” and “Students will fight! Immigration is a right!”

Rally participants not only showed support for the movement to make Kent State a sanctuary campus, but showed opposition to many of President Donald Trump’s actions since he has taken office.

Demonstrators frequently referenced the president’s policies that seem to target immigrants — specifically his executive order that many refer to as an immigration ban.

Aylin Chagolla, a rally speaker and sophomore speech pathology and audiology major, delivered an impassioned speech, fighting tears as she urged the crowd to look past the messages of inequality she feels the president represents.

While she herself was born in the U.S., she cited that both of her parents are immigrants from Mexico. She said they came to the country with no ill-intention, only with the goal of making their lives better.

“It’s our job to speak up for those who can’t out of fear,” she said. “My family has expressed, through all these difficult conversations that we had to have, ‘We’re not here to take anything from you. All we’re doing is getting a better life for our family, giving back to the place that has become our home.'”

Protesters also held a bevy of homemade signs with equally insistent phrases: “No ban. No wall.”; “Trump is the symptom. Capitalism is the disease.”; and “Revolution is the cure.”

Kelly Cunningham, a SPC member and junior fashion merchandising major, led the group’s chants.

“I was out marching today because I believe that Kent State should be a sanctuary campus,” Cunningham said. “I think that every student has the right to a safe space, has the right to legal representation and has the right to know that when they go visit their family, they’ll have a safe space to come back to and be educated.”

Standing across from the SPC ralliers was a small group of students with Trump flags in hand.

Junior nursing major Colten Dalton stood alongside them, holding a sign that read: Grants. Loans. FUNDING.” with each word crossed out. 

Dalton opposes the view that Kent State should become a sanctuary campus.

“Trump has already vowed to end funding for sanctuary cities, so what’s stopping him from ending our funding here?” he said. “That includes research grants, as well. Actually, we just got a research grant for Alzheimer’s disease for ($444,000) over the next three years, and that could be stripped away because of a sanctuary campus where probably less than 1 percent are illegals anyways.”

Both groups marched around the Student Center, despite the SPC’s original plan to march across campus.  Because of below-freezing temperatures and anti-sanctuary campus protesters, the original march route changed.

While the SPC was OK with Dalton and his colleagues expressing their views with their own protest, they felt that at times the group was infringing upon their own message during the march.

“The protesters, who were protesting our protest, got in the way of us … (they) were making it look like they were leading the protest, when in actuality they were not,” Cunningham said. “And so we had to change routes very quickly, so the route we took was not planned.”

Dalton did acknowledge that he and fellow Trump supporters were trying to march in front of the rally at times. However, they were only practicing their First Amendment right to free speech — not just as U.S. citizens, but as students at Kent State.

Minor conflict aside, the cold March afternoon was a time for anyone to make their opinions known, regardless of conflicting political views.

“They have every right to be here as much as we do,” said Grace Goodluck, a SPC member and senior political science major.

McKenzie Jean-Philippe is the diversity editor, contact her at [email protected].