Dozens of University of Vermont students and members of the Burlington community convened outside the Davis Student Center Tuesday afternoon to protest in response to the election of Donald Trump as president, but demonstrators spoke out on a variety of issues.
Audio for this story will be posted.
Some students said they were protesting the apparent lack of response from the university after a Black Lives Matter flag was stolen earlier this year, and a swastika painted on a Trump for president sign was found near the UVM Hillel last week.
Harmony Edosomwan, a first-year student at UVM, said she was there to raise awareness about incidents on campus that made some students feel discriminated against.
“The University of Vermont, they pose to be a very progressive and liberal school, which it is, media-wise,” she said. “But actually what's happening on campus is they're not actually investigating hate crimes that are happening here, and we're just trying to bring awareness to that.”
Edosomwan was joined by dozens of other students supporting a wide variety of causes, from abortion rights to Black Lives Matter to shows of solidarity with Palestinians. At the beginning of the demonstration, she read a poem to the assembled group calling for action from everyone in the community to oppose sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination.
Harmony Edosomwan reads "A Rally/March Poem"
In a statement, UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera said university police recovered the Black Lives Matter flag undamaged but the investigation "has not resulted in any arrests." He added that "a case is under review by the Center for Student Conduct for possible violations of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities."
Corredera provided VPR with a letter UVM President Tom Sullivan sent to the university community on Nov. 9, calling for civility and unity on campus and offering resources for students who need counseling or other support.
"Our University denounces any form of bias, discrimination, or violence," Sullivan's letter said. "It is especially important, now, to continue to work together and support each other. We encourage you to take advantage of available programs and resources available at the University and to reach out to one another for support and encouragement."
Corredera, in an emailed statement to VPR, also addressed the Trump sign found with a swastika painted on it.
“The sign bearing the swastika was not found on university property," he wrote. "We fully appreciate, however, that the swastika symbol, wherever displayed, carries painful associations to horrific historical atrocities and is deeply disturbing. We reached out immediately to the Hillel center to offer our support. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a safe, open, inclusive, and respectful campus community. Burlington police are investigating.”
The protest was put together by Katy Flood, a first-year student.
Flood is white, and straight, and cisgender (meaning she was born female and identifies as a woman), but she was calling on everyone in the UVM community to show support for those who feel targeted by Donald Trump's rhetoric or policies.
“White allies, this is not the time for you to be silent,” she said. “Cis allies, this is not the time for you to be silent. Straight allies, this is not the time for you to be silent. Men, this is not the time for you to be silent.”
Many in the group said they respected the result of the election, but they were protesting to show that sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are not welcome at UVM.