Just hours after the presidential inauguration, Mills College students, staff and faculty gathered to discuss the ramifications of the current political climate in the United States.
On Jan. 20, the Student Union held a full audience for a panel called “Reflections on this Political Movement: The Inauguration and the Future.” Moderator Maggie Hunter of the sociology department was joined by Mills’ President Beth Hillman, government Professor Andrew Flores, art Professor Glen Helfand, ethnic studies Professor Arely Zimmerman, and Mills alum Deellan Kashani.
Panelists shared their feelings regarding the election results and discussed ways to take action against this new presidential administration. The wide range of topics included different methods of protest, ways to be an effective ally and what the legal details of Trump’s presidency might look like.
Professor Zimmerman, whose primary research topic is immigrant rights, presented a powerpoint entitled “From Nostalgia to Action: Immigrants’ Rights in the Trump Era.” Zimmerman’s talk centered around how she and other progressives were nostalgic for the days when Barack Obama was first elected president and there was hope in immigrant communities. She went on to say how in 2010, though, that hope turned into a fight for immigrant rights and that it was undocumented students who brought about policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the California DREAM Act .
“The days of hope transformed into the days of rebellion,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman left the audience with three lessons that they should think about adopting: people must move past nostalgia and into action, they cannot be afraid to challenge the status quo, and they must stand behind and provide resources for students who are organizing
Kashani, who graduated from Mills last year and is currently the Chair of the Muslim Caucus of the California Young Democrats, spoke about the current climate for Muslim Americans. She talked about the spike in hate crimes, particularly against women wearing hijabs, and how Muslim youth are hoping to become more politically involved in politics and the media.
Kashani also expressed that, even though Trump’s rhetoric has been divisive, there are many communities in the country who felt that a Hillary Clinton presidency would not have been much of an improvement.
“Hillary was no shining star of Muslim inclusion,” Kashani said.
President Hillman spoke last on the panel, urging audience members not to conflate Trump’s supporters with him. She also spoke on the subject of the law, stating that she does not believe Trump will use the judicial system properly.
“[To him] the Supreme Court will be an arbiter of victory rather than a protector of law, a protector of liberty or protector of the Constitution,” Hillman said.
After each panelist finished speaking, Hunter opened the floor up for questions from the audience. One person asked about solidarity and the most effective ways to be an ally to marginalized groups most affected by Trump’s election.
“Solidarity and allyship are incredibly, incredibly important,” Kashani answered. “It can take forms of physically being at marches and protests when they happen. Some people don’t feel comfortable going to them because [the] chances of getting arrested or tear gassed are much higher depending on the demographics they belong to. When things like that do happen, put your body in the way of it. Physically putting your body on the line when there is less of a chance of you being injured is [important].”