This Friday, the nation will watch as one of the quintessential elements of democracy is performed: the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. While it is called a ‘peaceful’ transfer of power, this does not mean it will be without resistance.
At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, there are demonstrations and teach-ins planned in reaction to Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Mānoa Faculty Senate on December 14, 2016, passed a resolution wherein students in classes run by the Departments of Sociology, Art and Art History, and Philosophy "will not be penalized should they decide to join the Day of Resistance and not attend classes or hand in assignments that day." Another resolution was passed on January 10 2017 by The College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate that extends this opportunity to students in the Departments of English and American Studies.
The initiative demonstrated by the faculty senate and UH Mānoa should be applauded for encouraging college students to participate in the democratic process and use their voice. Throughout history, colleges have served as a hub for political activism and this resolution will allow UH Mānoa to continue this tradition.
Taking a stand
In the course of Donald Trump’s campaign, several groups felt that their interests were being overlooked. For example, Trump has expressed support of a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. The events on Friday seek to tackle issues that are at the forefront of the minds of many Americans through “teach-ins.” In response to Trump’s xenophobic attitudes towards Muslims, one of the first events on Friday is “Solidarity with Muslims in the Age of Trump” that begins at 9:30 a.m. in Moore 323.
UH Mānoa’s decision to serve as a facilitator for these events gives students a chance they would not have otherwise had to learn and discuss the issues. These teach-ins can provide comfort to those who have felt targeted by Trump in knowing others support their interests and will stand with them.
A place to raise your voice
College campuses are ideal places for citizens to share their political beliefs; intellectual safety is celebrated and individuals are encouraged to form their own unique perspectives. College students are usually of voting age and should begin to engage in the democratic process by not only voting but also by being involved.
Historically, college campuses have been the setting for significant political activism, from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights movement. The students that participated in these protests recognized their power to speak out against injustice and stand up for their beliefs.
While some may argue protesting is a waste of energy and ultimately will not cause any change, the demonstrations at UH Mānoa and around the nation will send a message to Trump that he will be held accountable if he does not work in the best interests of all Americans. The alternative is silence – a signal to Trump that he can continue enforcing oppressive policies.
It could be argued that UH Mānoa’s decision to make classes not mandatory this Friday is an unnecessary and partisan move. However, UH Mānoa is only working in the best interests of its students because the university takes its role seriously as a place where students can participate in a larger political and social stadium.
The teach-ins that will occur on campus this Friday offer an invaluable and rare opportunity for students to discuss the issues that they have heard Donald Trump go on about during his campaign. Students will not only express their discontent with each other, but be inspired to plan and do something about their concerns for the next four years.