UMD students stage walkout to support marginalized peers

“We are not afraid,” echoed throughout campus on Thursday, Nov. 17, as more than 350 students and faculty came together to demonstrate their solidarity with marginalized students on campus.

The “Walk Out 2017” march led by Jamie Hurtado and the Protect UMD campaign raised awareness about protecting groups whose voices are often overlooked and undermined by society. The non-violent march began at the Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library and proceeded down the mall. Students stopped to congregate at the Mitchell Administration building.

“It is really important for the community to come together and show solidarity,” said senior Corey Sands. “People have had issues with the administration for a while, but I think the election has magnified the need to bring these issues to light.”

Walkouts to demonstrate the need to protect marginalized students on campus have occurred at both Towson University and Rutgers University this past week, according to Protect UMD.

At UMD, the students and faculty marched together from the Mitchell building and regrouped outside Hornbake Library in front of the Frederick Douglass statue. People of all ages, races and genders stood together as different members of the group spoke out against marginalization on campus.

From faculty to freshmen, every individual who preached into the microphone to share his or her personal experience was praised with overwhelming support and love from the crowd.

In a powerful unison the congregation chanted, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”

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Protect UMD organized the march through a Facebook group and word of mouth, encouraging the campus to participate in the rally, which was not politically aligned. “Walk Out 2017” asked students and faculty to walkout of any commitment to show their undeniable support for an ever-present and highly prioritized cause.

Rainbow flags and hand crafted signs with phrases like, “Black Lives Matter,” and “Immigrants Welcome Here” sent inspirational and comforting messages to the crowd beyond the voices in the microphone.

Some students, like junior Bolu Kamil, rode their bikes from across campus to partake in the movement.

“On campus here I feel safe, but in general I do not feel safe since the election,” said Kamil, an international student majoring in nursing and community health.

From the Frederick Douglass square, “Walk Out 2017” marched to the Nyumburu Cultural Center where the phrase, “If you don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace,” was heard by students eating in the Stamp Student Union’s noisy food court.

Even some professors encouraged their students to step away from the desks to experience the power of “Walk Out 2017.” Carly Rosen, a sophomore at UMD, participated in the rally as a part of a lesson taught by her professor, Jason Nichols, in her African-American studies course.

“Our professor wanted us to experience the rally,” said Rosen. “After the group moved to the Nyumburu Center we went back to class and discussed its impact.”

“Walk Out 2017” caught the attention of everyone on campus, drawing the attendance of the director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Matt Supple, and student activist and leader Joanna Rubin.

“I’m here today with the population of UMD to stand together in showing that we will not accept any racism, misogyny, discrimination or any other sort of prejudice on campus,” said Rubin, a senior and proponent for Protect UMD. “We are fighting to make Maryland a sanctuary for undocumented students and we want to make this a safe campus for everyone.”

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