UMass students hold walkout against ‘right-wing terror’

The walkout was held only a day after the midterm elections


(Alvin Buyinza/Daily Collegian)

By Alvin Buyinza, Assistant News and Photo Editor

Students, faculty and local residents participated in a campus walkout outside the Student Union of the University of Massachusetts on Wednesday to speak out against the rise of white supremacy and “right-wing terror” around the country.

Hosted by the newly-formed UMass Students United Against Fascism along with several members of the International Socialist Organization, roughly 50 people participated in the walkout. Participants held signs reading “We are UMass,” “By reading this you agree to overthrow white supremacy” and “Which side are you on?”

“The importance of calling for this walkout and this rally today is to bring together the broad left on our campus, and to show solidarity for those students who’ve been targeted and for those workers who’ve been targeted because of their race, because of their religion, because they are from somewhere else,” said Stacey Sexton, a member of the ISO.

Participants of the walkout were also asked to speak on their opinions about the current political climate of the country, namely on steps needed to combat systemic oppression and bigotry during the Trump Administration.

“This is first and foremost for the Melville students,” said Sean-Tousey Pfarrer, member of UMass SUAF. “Targets of racist death threats in September and now a confederate flag painted in their dorm walls, this s— is not acceptable, and you know what we say? Black lives matter!”

Last week, a stairwell sign in Melville Hall was vandalized with an etching of a square with two Xs across it. Residents of the hall had reported the vandalization to UMPD on the basis that it resembled the confederate flag. However, UMPD had concluded it did not distinctly match the flag.

In addition to speaking about incidents on campus, Pfarrer, who uses ze/hir pronouns, also wanted to address acts of violence and racism across the nation, namely last week’s Pittsburgh shooting that left 11 dead.

“We also have to talk about all the other s— that’s going on. We’ve got mass murderers of Jews in synagogues, not any Jews, Jews working on helping refugees,” ze said. “This is an intersectional attack, and we need an intersectional response.”

Pfarrer also called for more support for immigrants and refugees in response to President Trump’s recent ‘Caravan’ ad, which has been criticized as being xenophobic and racist. Additionally, ze pursued support for the transgender community.

Brittyn Calyx, a resident of the Western Massachusetts area who uses xe, xem and xyr pronouns, spoke on the need for more support of the transgender community following the 2018 midterm election.

“We just had this election, and we are told we live election to election and that’s how we vote, and I want to say that we don’t have that as our only vote,” Calyx said. “There was a long route involved leading up to the last few weeks and also not everything went everybody’s way. We still have so much work to do.

“It is our job to hold people accountable to the people’s will, to our will to standing up against oppression, that is what is happening,” Calyx said.

Additionally, Calyx spoke on the importance of organizing, especially after xe witnessed immigrant families being detained and separated at the border.

One of the most highly-applauded speeches was from Britt Mardis, a sophomore psychology  major, who spoke on the inherent value people have across identities.

“When you are fighting a war, it makes it difficult to stay true to what makes us human, and the thing that connect everyone together, especially after the recent election, we f—— took the house!” Mardis said.

A small round of applause from the crowd grew after.

“Even though we may have not accomplished everything that we wanted to, it’s not over, not by a long shot and that everyone is of value,” she said. “I think that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished by human beings loving each other and treating each other with respect and fighting for everyone’s dignity.”


Alvin Buyinza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abuyinza_news.