By Sam Phillips
While Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump was speaking in Kilcawley Center on Monday, several protesters gathered on Youngstown State University’s campus to make their voices heard, too.
About 75 demonstrators joined together in chants of “love trumps hate” and “make America safe again.”
Members of the YSU College Democrats and the YSU Latino Organization organized the protest. People arrived around 12:30 p.m. to set up.
Dylan Edwards, president of the YSU College Democrats, said they wanted to show that YSU doesn’t endorse what he called Trump’s “message of hatred.”
“The goal is to get these people who want to protest [his] agenda and show that he’s not what the campus represents,” he said. “It’s to get those people engaged in political action and get them to volunteer … to get active in the political sphere.”
A few Trump supporters showed up, voicing their support of the nominee and discussing their political views with the protestors. A few people appeared to support other presidential candidates, such as Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
Tom O’Neill, a Youngstown resident, came to support Trump. He said the speech was a great event for the region.
“It’s really bringing Republicans from other parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania to our area,” O’Neill said. “It’s nice to have them come here to our local university. We’re proud; it elevates the pride of Youngstown State University.”
Aside from a couple heated arguments, the interactions were relatively peaceful. People chanted and held up their signs. Police cordoned off a wide perimeter around Kilcawley Center, pushing the rally back to Cushwa Hall.
YSU student Lindsay Heldreth said Trump wasn’t welcome on campus. She expressed concerns about the campaign’s treatment of protestors and journalists.
”He directly insults and tries to silence anyone who tries to disagree with him,” she said. “I think that lack of engagement with free speech and trying to take that away from people is what’s dangerous.”
Shannon Tirone, associate vice president for university relations, said the Trump campaign reached out to the university and they would welcome Clinton with open arms as well.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be on a university campus with the expression of opinions and ideas,” she said.
She said as a state institution, providing public access to the campus — including to campaigns — is part of what the university does. But YSU does not make political endorsements, and Trump’s appearance should not be taken as such.
Communications student Nick Cimoric came out to support Trump. He said he appreciated the peaceful nature of the protest.
“I think it’s great for all of us to be out here and share our opinion,” Cimoric said. “That’s what’s great about America. You have free speech no matter what it is, as long as you respect another’s opinion.”
Victoria Ferry, a first-year physical therapy Graduate student, neither supports or opposes Trump, but decided to see what the protest was all about.
“You have freedom of speech so you should say what you think,” she said. “Non-violence is obviously the most beautiful way of having a protest, violence doesn’t solve anything and no one listens when you’re trying to insult anyone or make them feel bad.”