“No ban, no fear. Refugees are welcome here,” echoed throughout the Academic Mall during Campus Life Time on Feb. 1, as upwards of 500 protesters paraded through campus during the March for Unity.
An event later that day brought a similar number of students and community members to SAC Plaza for Seawolves for Solidarity, an evening of speakers and music. Both groups gathered in protest of President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which banned travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
“There are about 80 students and faculty at Stony Brook University from the seven countries listed in the White House executive order,” President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. said at Seawolves for Solidarity. “Several students were caught in its effects. One is still unable to return to Stony Brook.”
Stony Brook’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance in conjunction with Stony Brook College Democrats planned the March for Unity after the executive order went into effect and subsequently detained and deported travelers including Stony Brook Graduate Student Organization President Vahideh Rasekhi.
Rasekhi was held at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 28 before being released at 2:30 p.m. the next day.
“After this weekend we decided we can’t just sit and be complacent,” Stony Brook College Democrats President Tyler Muzio said. “We decided to do something as soon as possible, and we figured where else to have it than on campus.”
Muzio only expected about 40 protesters, but the crowd grew as the marchers made their way from the SAC to the Administration Building and back. Signs read simple messages such as “Refugees Welcome” and “Stop War Not Refugees.” Others expressed more pointed attacks such as one that read the phrase “Ban Bannon,” referring to Trump advisor Steve Bannon.
“This direct action and show of support is especially important and so is being very visible about what we believe in and making it known we will not tolerate this bigotry,” said senior political science major Jill Ferretti.
“Amen,” junior psychology major Ashley Harley responded.
Ferretti’s sign read, “Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe,” with an American flag drawn in the right bottom corner of the white posterboard.
After marching through the Academic Mall, the crowd gathered in a semi-circle outside of the SAC chanting, “Hands too small, can’t build a wall,” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Islamophobia has got to go.”
That evening, campus leaders including Rabbi Joe Topek, Undergraduate Student Goverment President Cole Lee, Muslim Student Association Vice President Verdah Ahmad and representatives from other organizations spoke at the Seawolves for Solidarity rally, which was organized by USG, the Interfaith Center and the GSO.
Social justice-oriented musical group, “Listen For A Change,” which is comprised of Stony Brook stuents and faculty, kicked off the ceremony while the Stony Brook Pipettes closed out the event with a mash up of “Where is the Love?” “Waiting On the World to Change” and “Same Love.”
“I really wanted to participate in a movement,” junior biology major Jo’Ale White said. “I’ve been looking for stuff, so I’m glad Stony Brook has something like this.”