Elon students, faculty and staff gathered at Speakers’ Corner on Feb. 6 to share personal experiences and express collective strength.
More than 100 students, faculty and staff gathered at Elon’s Speakers’ Corner on Young Commons Feb. 6 to share their concerns and hold a march about the president’s recent Executive Order regarding immigration. The event was co-sponsored by 14 campus organizations.
“I consider myself right of center, but this most recent travel ban seems a bit insane. I’m here because I feel like everyone who feels that way should be here to support groups that feel threatened,” said Joshua Weintrab ’17.
The event featured eight speakers who shared stories of personal adversity coupled with shared hopes for diversity, inclusion and understanding through education.
“We live in times of uncertainty and fear. Today, I feel reassured. The core values of our university have never rang truer,” said one student organizer.
Brooke Barnett, associate provost for inclusive community and professor of communications, reminded the crowd how important it is to see the many ways in which everyone is connected and to encourage conversations about difference. She stressed the importance of empathy and continuing to work for unity.
“Coming today is easy, but the harder and messier work is still ahead,” she said. “But this is Elon at its best. When we come together in solidarity,” she said.
Several speakers referenced sacred texts and common themes of humility, love and responsibility to neighbors.
“I see this as a stressful opportunity to bring out the best in me,” said Imam Shane Atkinson, Muslim Life Coordinator, noting the calls of support and love he’s received in the last few weeks. “I don’t want people to feel bad for the Muslim community, but to recognize our shared humanity and extend respect to each other,” he said.
As the event progressed, speakers touched on marginalized groups, political policy and personal experiences. They talked about collective action and small ways to show support for those feeling fear and sadness. Ultimately, students noted finding new reserves of strength even as national and global events have caused them anxiety.
“I’m here to show that Elon cares. I’m here for people struggling through tough political times. I’m here for anyone who feels marginalized. I’m standing in solidarity. I’m with them. They’re not alone,” said Kannon Hall ’19, who attended the event with friends.
Following the remarks, the group marched through the Global Neighborhood. Some walked in silence, others talked with friends and several carried signs with messages focused on unity.