On Nov. 14, students participated in a protest organized by Democrats Abroad at McGill following Donald Trump’s victory in the American presidential election on Nov. 8. In Fall 2016, American students made up 11.3 per cent of the undergraduate entering class and 6.8 per cent of the graduate entering class.
The protest started around 5 p.m. at Milton Gates. Participants engaged in speeches denouncing the policies promoted by President-Elect Trump and calling for society at large to take action. The crowd then peacefully marched to the Roddick Gates. Protestors had prepared posters with slogans such as “Love Trumps Hate” and “Respect existence or expect resistance,” as well as posters of the Palestinian flag and gay pride flags.
Vice President (VP) Events of Democrats Abroad at McGill Ella Hanson explained that the event aimed to provide a space for all students to voice their thoughts and opinions after the U.S. elections.
“I think we saw a lot of protests happen around the U.S. and we wanted to give American students and also international students at McGill the opportunity to express their opinions about the results in the election,” Hanson said.
Thomas Chroeter, a German-American U1 Arts student present at the protest, believes it is important to participate in such events in order to prevent Trump’s re-election in 2020.
“The one thing that we can do in order to not let something like this happen again is to go in the communities, speak to people, […] to join groups like Democrats Abroad at McGill, and to make sure that at the next elections we know that we fought our hardest, that we did our very best in the next four years to not give Trump a second term,” Chroeter said.
Chroeter recalled feeling deeply discouraged and disoriented when the election results were announced.
“I was feeling lost, I didn't know what to do,” Chroeter said. “It was probably one of the worst nights of my life.”
Beatrice Dimaculangan, U1 Arts, an American student also present at the protest, had an emotional experience on election night and in the following days.
“As I was watching the election, I was actually in a room full of international students where there was a lot of Americans and everyone was in tears,” Dimaculangan said. “I was in tears the next morning, […] I had friends hitting me up that were scared for their lives, for their futures.”
Dimaculangan feels particularly threatened by Trump’s program and policies due to a triple vulnerability.
“I am a woman, I am a minority, I come from a family of immigrants, so right now I’m feeling very fearful and anxious for my future,” Dimaculangan said.
Despite the apprehension, Dimaculangan remains optimistic about the future impact of her generation, who largely voted for Hillary Clinton.
“As a group of millennials we are […] incredibly vocal about our opinions and very optimistic about the impact that we can make […] because if you do look at the distribution of votes for millennials, […] it’s predominantly blue,” Dimaculangan said.
Amanda Demers, president of Democrats Abroad, explained that due to the elections, participation in the organization’s events has significantly increased this year.
“This year has been, obviously, the most active year […],” Demers said. “There’s been a big sense of concern and worry for a lot of Americans, especially being abroad, because you feel like you can’t do as much […] so we’re trying to provide them with outlets so they can become involved.”
Democrats Abroad intends to organize more events of this type if students’ urge to protest maintains the intensity manifested last week. However, nothing is planned yet.
“We hope [that] if the interest is still there and, depending on what happens, […] we will definitely be organizing more events,” Hanson said.