“Hey Hey Ho Ho, Donald Trump has got to go” was one of the chants employed by Bates protesters who attended Donald Trump’s rally in the neighboring town of Lisbon this past Friday. While the rain and blustery wind may have stalled some from engaging with the protest, it certainly did not halt concerned Bates students. For an hour, huddled in raincoats, students challenged Trump through chants, signs, and solidarity.
This rally in Lisbon marks Trump’s fifth visit to Maine since March. In the rowdy crowd of about 1,200 people packed inside a small gymnasium, there was a noticeable contingency of women wearing “Women for Trump” shirts, smiling proudly at the Republican nominee.
Bates Student Action, a club on campus that aims to fight for change on the local, state and national level through intentional and deliberate leadership building, co-lead by Cash Huynh ‘18 and Emily Manter ‘18, was largely responsible for this large mobilization of students. They organized rides and sent out mass emails to garner support. The message for the peaceful protest was clear: denounce the sexually violent language Trump has promoted, especially his recent locker room comment. Huynh explains, “By engaging in this rhetoric, Trump invites others to participate as well. And as a club we stand in direct opposition to his violence.” The students attending the protest made it clear that Trump’s discourse is not acceptable. In addition to the catchy chants, students made witty signs. “My favorite sign was definitely one that read, ‘Hands off my cunt-re,’” Alexandra Gwillim ‘18, says, whom attended Friday’s rally.
While there was minimal aggressive heckling from Trump supporters, Bates students still received verbal pushback. Echoing similar rhetoric that circled during the Ben Chin election last November, local Trump supporters attending the rally were angered by the Bates’ liberal and peaceful presence: “For a while, there was one woman denouncing us. Telling us that we are too young to understand politics. That we are just privileged Bates students” Alexandra Gwillim says. “But we are so much more than that, we belong to this community too. We want change and we are going to fight for that change.”