College Park students rally against Trump, sexual assault
By Talia Richman and Ellie Silverman
For The Baltimore Sun|
Nov 11, 2016 | 6:45 PM
About 150 University of Maryland students demanded action against sexual assault from campus administrators in a march of solidarity following the election of Donald Trump.
Organizers say recorded and other comments by Trump during the presidential campaign propelled them to deliver a letter to the university's president, Wallace Loh, asking for training for incoming students to address sexual violence. They also want university officials to lobby for consent education in Prince George's County's primary and secondary schools.
The petition demands that Loh "in the strongest words repudiate the sexual assault comments of President-Elect Donald Trump. … President Loh must make it clear to the campus that sexual violence is not a misunderstanding."
"A fearless campus of fearless ideas can't exist if people are being raped," said senior J.T. Stanley, one of the protest's leaders and a member of the University Senate.
Students gathered on McKeldin Mall, where survivors of sexual assault shared their stories. The group left articles of clothing — bras, underwear and T-shirts — on the grass, which they said were to represent future campus rape victims.
"Sexual assault and sexual violence are not OK," said university alumna McLaine Rich, who took part in the rally. "No matter what [Trump] thinks."
The group marched to the main administration building, where they held an impromptu sit-in as they demanded a meeting with Loh, who was unavailable. A small group met with a university vice president, Carlo Colella, for about 20 minutes.
A university spokeswoman later issued a statement. "Preventing and investigating sexual misconduct is, and will always be, a priority for the University of Maryland," it said. "We are committed to creating a learning and working environment that is free from sexual misconduct."
Loh also sent a campus-wide email urging unity after the election and generally supporting student protesters.
"UMD students have gathered in front of McKeldin Library and the Main Administration in a show of solidarity for students and communities who feel marginalized by the result of our democratic process. I stand in support of their right to have their voices heard," the email said.
It was the second time since Trump's election that students here rallied, joining thousands who are protesting in Baltimore and nationwide. On Wednesday night, more than 300 students protested on McKeldin Mall.
The response to sexual assault on campus has been a contentious issue at the university. The Student Government Association recently withdrew its proposal for a $34 annual fee to pay for sexual assault investigations. The administration then announced it would fund six new Title IX-related positions across two offices.