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At U. of C. Protest, Faculty and Students Worry Trump Threatens Campus Life

By Sam Cholke | January 20, 2017 1:55pm
 Approximately 100 students and faculty gathered on University of Chicago's campus Friday afternoon to decry the inauguration of Donald Trump as president.
U. of C. Trump Protest
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HYDE PARK — Protests against the newly minted Donald Trump administration kicked off at the University of Chicago Friday, where students and faculty worried the new president could dramatically change life on campus.

Approximately 100 people gathered on the quad of the Hyde Park campus for a noon rally before leaving to join larger protests Downtown.

Faculty and students worried they would soon face attacks from the new president’s administration.

“We don’t know when or what attacks are going to come, but we know they’re going to come,” said Anton Ford, an associate professor of philosophy at the university and a member of the American Association of University Professors.

He predicted negative reactions to Trump’s actions will prompt a lot more people to get politically involved.

Many at the rally planned to go to afternoon protests Downtown.

Adam Shaw, a senior lecturer of computer science at the university, said he’s always followed politics, but he’s gotten personally involved since the election of Trump.

“I’ve never spoken into a microphone before, but today is special and I’ve been turned into someone else,” Shaw told the crowd.

He said he’s started working on efforts at K.A.M. Isaiah Israel to help resettle refugees since the election.

The university could be dramatically altered by Trump’s policy proposals. Research is dependent on federal funding at the university and the hospital also gets federal research funding as well as payments for care through Medicaid and Medicare.

But the talk on campus after the inaugural address was more about social issues.

Emily Lynn Osborn, professor of African history, said she got worried when she heard Trump repeat his campaign slogans during his inaugural address.

“It changes what it means to be an American now,” Osborn said. “When he says, ‘make America great again,’ that harkens back to a time that wasn’t good for a lot of people.”

Activists said they believe actions by the Trump administration will push more people to become politically active.

The campus attracts a lot of foreign students and faculty, some of whom came out to the quad to try to understand the inauguration of Trump.

Assistant Philosophy Professor Matthias Haase he said he arrived on campus two weeks ago from Berlin, where he said he saw proto-fascist groups taking cues from the Trump campaign.

“We’ve always had radical right wing groups in Europe, but it was alarming to see them get the backing of the U.S. president,” Haase said.

He said he was still trying to understand an election that was viewed as a “catastrophe” in Germany.

Many of the faculty out for the rally came from the humanities, but it will be interesting to see if faculty in the hard sciences become more vocal if the Trump administration tries to curtail research on political hot topics like climate change or cuts research funding to reduce the federal deficit.