Roughly 150 students rallied in unison at SUNY New Paltz on Friday, Oct. 26, against white supremacist propaganda found plastered on campus and demanded immediate action.
At 9:26 a.m., President Donald P. Christian and Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, issued an email to all students regarding their awareness of this particular presence and condemning the messages.
“As a community, we have the power to combat these messages of hate and division by continuing to promote education and dialogue and striving, together, toward a more inclusive campus,” the letter read.
Founded in 2016, Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group, seeks to recruit college-aged men, in an effort to expand their racial identity movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Members reject the idea of equality and wish to preserve “people of European heritage” as the “supermajorities in [their] homelands,” according to the organization.
The rally was organized by the Hudson Valley branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), a national organization that fights social injustices, including exploitation and oppression, in their mission to progress towards a socialist society.
“[Identity Evropa’s] goal is to recruit and incite violence against people of color, trans people, both documented and undocumented immigrants and anyone who opposes their vile agenda,” said fourth-year art major and ISO member Serena Hale. “We need to use our strength in numbers to counter them and send them back into the shadows where they belong.”
The academic concourse rumbled from 1:40 to 2:15 p.m., with echoing chants and adrenalized applause, while both enraged students and passersby shared and listened to speeches, in hopes to spawn change. Several students stepped atop a stone platform, sharing their beliefs on society’s current state of action and awareness.
The most popular chants included “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” and “Whose streets? Our streets! Whose campus? Our campus!” which provoked loud shouts and fueled the crowd.
“I’m tired of the fact that, when I’m walking around, I have to look over my shoulder and be sure that nobody is saying something about me, or people who look like me—that we don’t matter,” said fourth-year psychology major Emi Lewis. “So if you’re really sorry, and you mean what the f*ck you say in your emails, do something about it.”
It was even suggested at one point that the college be shut down, if necessary, because “there needs to be change” and “an email is not going to do anything,” said third-year sociology major Kaitlyn Dombrowski.
About 20 minutes into the protest, two men in MAGA hats appeared on the outskirts of the rally, persuading a group of protesters to gather around them. Insults and remarks were interchanged, including one of the unidentified male’s statement: “It’s our f*cking country and [he’s] our f*cking president!” to which an unidentified protester responded: “It’s immigrants’ country! It’s not your country! It’s not the white man’s country!”
While protesters eventually began to dwindle from the scene, action was still taken.
ISO wishes to continue to generate interest towards other organized protests and meetings, according to Hale, which are held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lecture Center 100.
“The politics of diversity are really important, [but] the politics of solidarity are even more important,” said fourth-year student and ISO member Molly Seiden. “Right now, as oppressed groups, we need to come together and say that we won’t allow for any of our comrades to be oppressed, marginalized and attacked under this system.”