Mariel De Paz, political science major, wearing a shirt that read ‘Undocumented and Unafraid’ in bold white letters tearfully expressed how she felt post election in an open forum organized by the University on Thursday.
“I got home and my mother was crying. She felt like she couldn’t protect me and that is the worst feeling a mother could have,” De Paz said. “And now I feel like it is my time to protect her and be the voice, be her voice because I know she’s scared. Be proud of where you came from be proud of where you came from and stand tall. I am undocumented and unafraid.”
SF State students took to the streets on Tuesday night to protest the results of the election. Similar protests sprouted all throughout the country in cities such as New York, Chicago, L.A., Philadelphia, Oakland, and San Francisco.
In midst of the country’s civil unrest SF State’s President Leslie E. Wong sent out an email encouraging students to come together for an open forum to express their emotions in Jack Adams hall Thursday night, November 10.
“Now is the time to come together as a community, harnessing our collective commitment to academic freedom and improving society, to support one another and express solidarity with our community members who may feel fearful or threatened,” President Wong said in the email.
A separate email was sent by LuoLuo Hong detailing the venue and time the forum would take place Thursday Evening.
Brook Thomas, a Computer Science grad student felt the forum would only create more of a divide between those on campus who did support Trump and felt the University shouldn’t take a position on the election outcome. Thomas sent an email back to Hong stating his concern that it would “further rile passions and foster an unsafe environment on campus for students who did support Trump.”
“This campus has demonstrated that they’re unable to foster an open discussion,” Thomas said. “Luoluo Hong wrote back to me and she said well it is open to all people which is true but you’re not going to see anybody on the opposition stand up because they’d be terrified to.”
Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Dr. Derethia DuVal was the moderator of the discussion. DuVal described the forum as a safe and respectful place for students to be able to voice their opinions free of judgement.
“It’s important for people to be able to express their feelings. If you hold it in they build up,” Dr. DuVal said. “We have community members who have been targeted in various ways and they’re going to be sorely affected by this decision and we want to let them know that we are there for them.”
Close to 200 students and faculty attended the forum. The discussion began slowly until more students stood up and began telling stories of their struggles and their concerns for the months to come.
Student Aramis D.M. Valverde spoke to the audience about how people can still do their part post election.
“I was at the protest immediately after the election, the one that took place at Malcolm X and there was that feeling of helplessness, that feeling of well the election is over – now what,” Valverde said. “The ‘now what’ is the organizing, it’s the ensuring that even if they are in power people don’t lose their healthcare. We need to concern ourselves with more than just ourselves.”
After tear-filled speeches and quotes of encouragement offered from students and faculty Oscar Peña, Latino studies major, was the last one to speak for the night.
Peña hopes open forums like the one organized on Thursday night will not be something that occurs sporadically.
“I’ve been here for four semesters and out of my four semesters I’ve never seen an open forum held at this school until today,” Peña said. “Today was a testimony to let all students know, hey, the administrators are now alive they’ve been woken up they do somewhat have a heart.”
Peña stressed the need for similar forums to be held more frequently for students and also for administration as a way of checking in and bridging the gap between the two.
Dr. DuVal offered some insight in midst of the discussion that was met with thunderous applause.
“What I want to say is that you know success is the best revenge,” Dr. DuVal said. “You are all college students, so you all have the potential to be the politicians that you don’t see today.”