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Towson University students, faculty speak against discrimination after Trump election

A "walkout" is planned at Towson University on Monday to protest President-elect Donald Trump.

Several hundred students joined faculty members at Towson University's Freedom Square on Monday to express their feelings about the election of Donald Trump as president — and to exhort others to work for social justice and equality.

Taking turns at a microphone, students related concerns about discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — and many said they fear a Trump presidency will make things worse.

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The rally was organized by the Social Justice Collective, a group of faculty members that works with student groups. Organizers reserved the space; administrators made clear it was not a university-sponsored event.

Nicole Fabricant, a professor of sociology and anthropology, said she hoped the event would inspire students to become engaged and embrace peoples' differences.

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"There's an education that needs to happen here on campus," she said.

The rally drew a diverse crowd, including white students who said they wanted to do more to advocate for equality.

But some expressed frustration. Saraubi Harrison, a junior from Washington who is black, addressed Trump supporters.

"I don't care about your feelings," she said. "I don't care if I make you uncomfortable, because you decided that you were so selfish you didn't want to share your privilege with the rest of our minorities that you voted for this [expletive]."

That drew an expletive in return from a white male student in the crowd, which led to a commotion and some students yelling at each other. Towson University Police Chief Bernie Gerst stepped in and separated people. A chant broke out: "It is our duty to fight for our freedom!"

Harrison, a computer science and criminal justice major, said later she hoped the rally would prompt introspection among white students.

"I hope that after today, they'll be willing to jump out there and be a real ally and not just say you're one," she said.

Elyshia Aseltine, another professor of sociology and anthropology with the Social Justice Collective, said such discussions are important, because some interpret a lack of conversation on campus as "acquiescence" to racism.

"A huge part of this is there's a lot of fear," she said.

Mitch Lannon, a junior business major who wore a Trump campaign shirt, sat on a brick wall in the square as the rally wound down. He questioned the purpose of rallying now that the election is over.

"Everybody needs to come together and stop the huge divide in the nation," Lannon said. "Instead of going against your president, why not help and make the country better?"

Taylor James, Towson's student government president, said she was proud of students who spoke up.

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"It's hard to bring people from opposite sides together," said James, a senior. "It's going to be hard, but we'll get through it."

Towson University President Kim Schatzel did not attend the rally and declined a request for comment. In a statement, university spokesman Ray Feldmann said the university "remains committed to its relentless pursuit of a diverse and inclusive campus and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind."

The Towson rally was one of several in Maryland on Monday. In Silver Spring, students attending a protest at Montgomery Blair High School left campus and took to the streets to declare opposition to Trump.

In Annapolis, about 30 people marched through downtown during an evening protest against Trump. An altercation occurred between a member of the group and someone shouting anti-Hillary Clinton statements. Police said one person was taken into custody.

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Megan Brockett contributed to this article.

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