SAN MARCOS – In light of controversial fliers promoting hate on campus and a recent presidential executive order, three Texas State University students banded together Monday to show support and solidarity.
The organizers of the “No Hate, No Fear” demonstration on campus – Fatima Al-Dhahi, Epiphany Williams and Holly Doyle – invited students, organizations and members of the San Marcos community to engage in social and political discourse.
Al-Dhahi, 22, an applied sociology senior, identifies herself as a gay Arab-American woman. She said as someone who is marginalized, it’s important to see others like her protesting and standing up for themselves.
“I’m here to stand up not only for my family and what we’ve been through, but for all the marginalized groups in the United States,” said Al-Dhahi. “Arab-Americans don’t have a representation in this country.”
The demonstration was a means to increase the awareness of Texas State and San Marcos organizations that are allied with ensuring safe spaces for visibility and discussion. Some of those organizations Monday included the College Democrats, Feminists United, Interruptions, Pan African Action Committee and Transcend at Texas State.
“We want to try to create a safe area and community here despite what stereotypes or a temporary ban may say,” said Al-Dhahi.
Williams, 24, a geography senior who prefers they/them pronouns, said they feel compelled to show support for those affected by social issues.
“We’ve had debates concerning racism, homophobia and xenophobia, and we encourage that kind of dialogue here,” said Williams. “Hearts and minds are not changed until you engage and embrace the stranger.”
Williams said these demonstrations provide a platform not otherwise available for peaceful conversations between those who feel marginalized and those who may be more privileged than others.
“So far, with those kinds of dialogues, yes, they’re emotional but it remains respectful,” said Williams. “It’s important that you don’t disrespect, invalidate or dismiss other people’s experiences just because you haven’t lived it.”
Doyle, 22, a public administration senior, credits her pursuit of justice to her growing activism around campus and in allied organizations. “I’d like to see more engagement from Texas State students and the San Marcos community,” said Doyle. “We want to move people into action beyond just demonstrating.”
Doyle welcomes people to participate in any way they can but hopes it will lead to more active involvement.
“It’s a relatively easy thing to do; to just stop by and hang out or hold a poster,” said Doyle. “But it requires more of you to attend a meeting, to begin unlearning the different oppressive ways of thinking and to take action in order to actively challenge society.”
The three expect to host many demonstrations throughout Donald Trump’s presidency. They agreed that the overall message they want to share is to combat hate and fear.
“We believe in the United States,” said Al-Dhahi. “We believe in what we’re doing as a growing nation but we have not reached the ultimate potential of equality. And so, what we’re doing here is really trying to push that forward and say that as much as Americans thinks that we are the best, we still have a lot of work to do. Because no matter if it’s Trump or someone else, our issues are systemic and we need to work backward in order to then move forward.”