CSULB President Vows to Protect Students Following Trump Election; Protests on Campus Continue

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In an email sent to the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) campus Monday morning, President Jane Close Conoley promised to be watchful and vigorous in ensuring the safety of certain members of the community, including undocumented, Muslim, Jewish, underrepresented and LGBTQ students.

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“Our recent national election has created significant anxieties and uncertainties among some members of our community,” Close Conoley stated. “Even in these early days we can anticipate changes in policies that might disadvantage or threaten the security of some of our students, faculty and staff. We will be prepared.”

She condemned violence surfacing on campuses across the country, calling them intolerable, and committed herself to keeping the university at preserving and strengthening policies that empower students to pursue their dreams.

“One election will not weaken our mandate to educate all Californians who are willing to work hard and meet the rigorous requirements of a university education,” Close Conoley said.

Her email comes amid continued protests on campus since last Tuesday’s election results, with the first couple of demonstrations happening the day after during which hundreds of students protested Donald Trump’s apparent win as president-elect.

CSULB students Jen Gidaya and Judah Peralta were among those who took initiative to organize and rally to bring people together and make their voices heard.

“We wanted to make sure CSULB’s voice is also heard,” Gidaya said. “We organized this with a few friends, but all of a sudden so many people joined our [Facebook] group page, and before we knew it 800 people joined.” 

Protesters gathered Wednesday afternoon at the university’s student union west terrace and marched to the free speech lawn. As the crowd chanted “he is not my president” and “education not deportation” throughout upper campus, more students joined in and people took turns to not only voice their fears for President-Elect Trump, but to encourage everyone to be politically involved.

“Talk to your senators,” said CSULB student Vicente Castaneda. “Talk to your House of Representatives. Talk to your local politicians. Talk to them. Do it. Beyonce even said it. If Beyonce says it, you do it.”

The election results also led the university's Associated Student Inc. (ASI) to host a two-day safe space event starting Wednesday near the student union for students to express themselves, after ASI Secretary of Cultural Diversity Victoria Villa noticed people fearful on social media.

“Students need a space where they can feel safe, where they can be able to express that in some way,” said Villa. “If we don’t have a positive way to release those frustrations, feelings and emotions, it’s going to explode in a negative way.”

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On the first day, about 300 students participated by writing their thoughts on whiteboards and sticky notes, according to Villa and other ASI members. Participants were also able to de-stress through coloring books, and snacks were also provided for anyone stopping by.

Shae Miller, a professor in the women’s gender and sexuality department, said she cancelled her classes on Wednesday and Thursday following the election results.

“I came out here [to the safe space] with some students because we are providing support in the women’s gender and sexuality department today,” said Miller. “We have students stopping by looking for hope so I brought them to see the work other students are doing.”

Professors were aware of the distress from the election results, leading some to cancel classes and postpone exams.

CSULB student Stephanie Bandera said her professor cancelled an exam after students pulled the professor aside and told her they were not emotionally prepared.

“The professor was on the brink of tears and saying he [Trump] set us back not just with tests, but everything,” said Bandera.

Another protest, created by CSULB College Democrats, was planned Monday afternoon in front of Prospector Pete’s statue near the Liberal Art building 5. 

The protest hopes to raise awareness on how people of color have been affected by the recent president-elect and demand assurance of safety for groups targeted by Trump’s speech and to stand in solidarity against aggression, according to the Facebook page.

Peralta is planning a protest in the upcoming days for individuals, who could not make it out last week or today, according to a Facebook page created for the first protest.

Outside of CSULB, community members in the city of Long Beach have also took initiative to voice their concerns over a Trump presidency. People marched down the streets of downtown on Saturday and a candlelight vigil was hosted on Friday night. Another protest in the city is scheduled to take place this Saturday.

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