Chanting "We reject the president-elect," "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here" and "Not my president," Rutgers students marched up and down College Avenue and George Street Friday afternoon.
Roughly 120 students convened at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus to show support for minorities and members of the LGBTQ community after the election of Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.
Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year student Tamir Bejar said he attended and observed the rally to show support for students who might feel intimidated by the results of the election.
"The message is we do not accept the hate and fear-mongering, the hateful rhetoric he's been using," Bejar said. "Hopefully he can change and does a good job because if he doesn't that screws us over."
Anti-immigrant and anti-minority sentiment in the country existed long before Trump has, Bejar said, but the Republican's campaign has brought it into the limelight.
School of Arts and Sciences junior Luca Giovannetti said he is worried about Vice President-elect Michael Pence's past support for gay conversion therapy.
"Personally, I'm a gay man, so this election ... is very concerning to me. The idea of conversion therapy for the LGBT community is something that's very daunting," he said. "I fear that we'll go backwards just like many other groups in the country."
Glenn Bouthillette, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, said he voted for Trump because of his campaign promises. He said he was looking past what the president-elect said to what actions he had committed to.
"I understand about all the immigrants. I care about the immigrants, but we must make sure that we do an honest and trustworthy vetting so that immigrants can come in and not anyone who commits crimes," he said. "We need some sense of security to keep people safe."
A large number of Trump’s voters chose him because of his promise to bring back jobs, said Anthony Delconte II, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
“The reason that people voted for him is a lot of them are workers, a lot of them lost their jobs,” Delconte said. “It’s not about the race thing, I think people want to put it there but be reasonable. People want to understand why they voted for Trump, well that’s why.”
Delconte was formerly employed by a construction company for years.
He has seen many blue-collar jobs shipped overseas, he said. While Trump might not be able to bring them back, he at least promised to try.
“He’s the only one. These companies that are shipping jobs out, he was the only one to say he’d stop them,” he said. “He might not do it, but if he does that, he’ll protect American jobs … he’s the only candidate who said that. That’s what I want him to do.”
Bouthillette said he supported Trump’s stance on immigrants because of the recent terrorist attacks in Orlando, Paris and Brussels.
Americans need a sense of security, he said. The only immigrants he considers “illegal” are those who commit crimes.
Omar Mateen, the 30-year-old man who shot and killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub, was born in New York. In the Paris attack, committed by nine people, seven were of French or Belgian origin. And earlier this year, of the five men who killed 32 people in a suicide bombing at a Brussels airport and train station, four were Belgian nationals and one was a Swedish citizen.
Valerie Gomez, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said Trump does not respect immigrants. Her family immigrated to America through the immigration system, but that system itself needs improving.
“As a first-generation here at Rutgers I know my parents fought for my future, so I can’t respect a president who doesn’t recognize that fight,” she said. “I want a president who values each of us.”
The rally was also meant to speak against hate crimes that have been committed in Trump’s name, Bejar said.
Reports of potential hate crimes have spiked since the businessman’s election, according to BBC News.
“We do not accept any of that,” Bejar said. “I just do not support the bigotry that’s going on.”
Bouthillette said these crimes are being committed by Democrats.
Many of the claims stating that Trump is a racist are baseless, he said.
While Bejar said he does not believe every Trump supporter is bigoted, he does want them to understand they have cast their vote in support of someone who is.
“Unintentionally or not, you’ve made it okay for someone to be a bigot. We’re against that,” he said. “We’re not saying you specifically are bigoted, that you specifically are racist or misogynistic, but that you are standing with someone who allows it, that’s all I want them to know. Hopefully (Trump) addresses the bigotry and hate and tries to put an end to it.”
Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @bushrafhasan for more.
Sanjana Chandrasekharan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum.