Much was made of the protests that took place on the campus of Illinois College last Friday.
Around 200 IC students walked out of their classrooms at 12:15 to protest the election of Donald Trump. However, the gathering was not a one-sided affair as Trump supporters and others stood against the protest.
WLDS-WEAI News caught up with Stephanie Chipman, Illinois College’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and College Marketing, who observed Friday’s rally.
Chipman says there was a positive take away from the protest, as it remained peaceful and allowed for both sides to voice their opinions.
“I would describe the rally itself as very peaceful and as an open dialogue, so our students had conversations with one another on both sides of the political issues. They spoke openly to each other about their concerns, about unity, about being marginalized and about moving forward,” say Chipman.
Being a Liberal Arts institution, Chipman feels IC lived up to its mission of encouraging peaceful political discourse.
“One of the college’s missions is for students to learn how to have difficult conversations, and those difficult conversations definitely happened on Friday. The faculty and staff observed students with very different opinions approaching each other and having very meaningful dialogue about what was going on. And I would say that students really used the opportunity to exercise their democratic freedoms and to air their concerns and I would say that they learned quite a bit from each other,” Chipman says.
Given that the protests fell on the same day as Veterans Day, a number of local citizens took to social media to share their disappointment in the timing of the protest.
On that matter, Chipman says while the rally wasn’t associated with the holiday, many students did express gratitude for America’s Veterans.
“I do not believe that there was any formal decision to use the rally as an opportunity to make a statement that was associated with Veterans Day. But maybe of the students, in their speaking, acknowledged the great sacrifice of our veterans and used the opportunity to thank those who have served our country and gave them the opportunity for free speech and for peaceful assembly. I think that it was a great statement that our students acknowledged the national holiday during the process of communicating with each other,” explains Chipman.
As for the students who left class, Chipman says they are responsible for any content that was missed as a result.
In regards to whether or not there will be similar protests in the future, Chipman added that “the students are maintaining an opportunity to continue those conversations,” though “the institution itself has not planned any additional activities.”
For more on Friday’s protest, visit our website at WLDS/WEAI.com for our original story, or visit our WLDS News Facebook page for video footage from the protest.