By Deanna Mudry
After the election of Donald Trump this past November, many people took to social media to vent their frustrations about the new president. Most of these posts haven’t developed into activist coalitions, but that’s exactly what AU Resist has done.
AU student Quinn Dunlea created a Facebook group called “F*ck Trump,” as a response to the election results. It was a group of about 60 people to which she’d post information on anti-Trump protests and articles she found interesting. Dunlea had campaigned for Hillary Clinton and “was really fired up” after what had happened, Alana Kessler, cofounder of AU Resist, said.
“The election was something that she put a lot of heart into,” she said.
Kessler and Dunlea kept running into each other as they went to more protests after Trump’s inauguration. After the executive travel ban was released, they both went to the airport to protest. That’s when they decided to create a space for AU students to get involved with protesting the administration.
“After that night I was like ‘we need to connect with more AU students and let them know that people are going to things,’” Kessler said. “‘How can we create a source to collectively, and as a community, be part of this resistance movement?’”
Kessler and Dunlea re-started the “F*ck Trump” page by changing its name to AU Resist and adding more members. Today, it has 331 of them. The page says it’s a “cohesive resistance community/coalition in opposition to the new administration” that aims to create safe spaces for getting involved in anti-administration activism.
“It’s just very collaborative, inclusive and accepting of all peoples’ views and causes, and other things they’re involved in that they want people to know about,” Kessler said.
AU Resist is trying to get involved in almost all of AU’s student organizations, mainly by aggregating posts about different organizations’ events on the page. Kessler said that this is the best way to get a wide range of students to engage in activism, because it introduces it to them through a cause that they’re already interested in.
“We know and understand that everyone at AU has their own unique passion and interest and place where they want to be an activist,” she said. “We don’t expect every student to go to every protest downtown for Planned Parenthood.”
Kessler is a sophomore from Long Island, New York, majoring in religious studies. She used AU Resist to inform others about Interfaith Week events so that students interested in religious inclusion on campus could find more ways to participate.
“I went to Shabbat because I’m really involved with the Jewish community on campus and a girl was there and she said ‘Thank you so much for organizing this. Today I went to jummah [the Muslim Friday] prayer and it was such an incredible, inclusive experience and I’m so grateful that I found out about it through AU Resist,’” Kessler said.
Kessler said she hopes more students are empowered to get involved with activism, on and off campus, because of AU Resist.
“Having this space where people can hopefully get out of their comfort zone a little bit and comment on a post or show up to an event [hopefully] they’ll meet more people and feel more comfortable being an activist,” she said.
Since the election there have been un-official resist movements around the globe. Some just share information using the hashtag #resist, and others, like Greenpeace, who hung a banner that said ‘Resist’ on a crane behind the White House, have taken it to a different level.
No matter how AU students choose to express their resistance, AU Resist will be behind them. Kessler said that she’s seen a difference in the campus climate since it was created. More students are acting out against the election and its frightening aftermath and are equipped with the information to do so because of the page.
“I don’t want to say that people are becoming more positive, but the people that are upset are going to be a little more louder,” Kessler said. “Right after the election I think that people needed time to mourn and take a step back and be sad. What happened was sad and now what’s going on is scary, but rather than being scared and staying home and staying quiet we need to be loud, and I think the way we’re being loud is by showing our presence on campus and showing our presence as an AU community at different protests.”