Last Friday, President Trump’s signing of an executive order suspended US refugee intake from seven majority-Muslim nations for four months, while indefinitely suspending those coming from Syria. Though his actions in cutting US refugee intake were not entirely unexpected, as drawn from his previous rhetoric, they still came as a crippling shock wave to many across the world.
This Friday, however, hundreds of students at Boston College are gathering to respond to these events in O’Neill Plaza at noon for the Together We Stand: Solidarity Silent Demonstration.
“The most recent political developments have left so many of us confused, scared, and determined to fight back,” reads the event’s Facebook page description. “We hope that through a moment of silence followed by student speakers, we will be able to unite as a community to breathe, reflect, and move forward together.”
The unity rally, organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in partnership with 25 other clubs on campus, will open with a brief moment of silence to mourn lost lives and follow with speakers ranging from UGBC representative Aneeb Sheikh to Theology Professor Stephen Pope. The event will wrap up around 1 pm with a trip to the Multi-Faith Center at 66 Commonwealth Ave. to continue the united solidarity for the weekly Muslim prayer.
“The news struck America on Friday night, so on Saturday night my roommates and I were sitting around talking like we always do, thinking about how BC organizations are really good at hosting safe spaces and talks in response to these kinds of events,” says event organizer and MSA member, Sara Elzeini, MCAS ‘18. “So I thought, why not take the initiative and start this?”
Elzeini met with an eager and supportive Dean Tom Mogan on Tuesday afternoon, and the event was swiftly approved to take place on Stokes Lawn. Only after the Facebook event received such an overwhelming response, gaining the support of over 400 fellow students, did the event move to O’Neill Plaza.
“I was getting all these emails of support and solidarity, and it gave me so much hope for this campus and for my peers,” says Elzeini. “We need this moment for the campus community to be together and be a presence and let our strength grow in solidarity.”
Director of External Relations for the MSA, Isra Hussain, MCAS ‘17, was also one of the first on board to coordinate and organize the BC demonstration for communities affected by Trump’s refugee ban.
“I think last Friday’s executive order affected a lot of MSA very personally,” says Hussain. “I went to the immigration rally in Copley Square and it was such an incredible moment seeing the solidarity for the Muslim community and other affected communities. I personally wanted to spread that to BC, so we can reflect and breathe and just be there for each other.”
This vision will certainly be seen through at MSA’s solidarity demonstration, which is slated to draw crowds of hundreds of BC students and faculty to come together in mourning, support, and solidarity—a response that rings loud and clear to the events of the past week. The MSA plans on continuing the movement with its upcoming Islamic Awareness Week next month.
“Being Muslim is a big part of my identity and I live by those values every day,” says Hussain, “so being a strong, positive advocate for my community means a lot to me.”
Stay tuned for The Gavel’s live video coverage of the event on our Facebook page, starting at 12 pm EST.