On September 22, 2020, nearly 400 people gathered at the Smithville Inn in Galloway, where Donald Trump Jr.—eldest son of President Donald Trump and executive vice president of the Trump Administration—was a guest of honor at a fundraiser for the Atlantic County Republicans.
Located just 4.2 miles away from Stockton’s Galloway campus, the event attracted almost an even split between Trump supporters and protestors. Many of these protestors included Stockton students, who saw Trump’s presence in Atlantic County as an opportunity to make their voices heard.
“Hate has no place in South Jersey,” said Jen Coulman, a sophomore biology major. “Protesting is a way to show public awareness to problems at hand. I wanted to stand up for my rights while protesting the hate and bias of Trump and his supporters.”
Sophomore Brianna Bracey, a criminal justice major, felt the same.
“When I learned about the protest, I made it my obligation to go,” Bracey said. Bracey protested in support of women, African Americans, the Hispanic community, the LGBTQ+ community, and the military; all groups she feels the president has disrespected. “I may not understand, but I stand, and I will continue to stand until change is enforced, and justice is served.”
Although there are often major concerns over protests turning violent, Stockton students aimed to challenge this view by demonstrating peaceful protesting. “These protests, are by no means violent or filled with rage,” Bracey said.
Irenonsen Eigbe, who is also a sophomore biology major, felt not only peace, but patriotism while standing alongside fellow protestors. “I met new people while participating in chants, patriotic songs, and a few fun songs,” said Eigbe.
However, the students pointed out that not everyone was peaceful towards them, as Bracey and Eigbe recalled harassment from Trump supporters.
“We had our masks ripped off, and posters ripped out of our hands,” said Bracey. Eigbe said at one point, the police needed to interfere when someone pushed a megaphone in her face.
Despite these negative moments, all three students maintained their pride in fighting for their beliefs. For these Ospreys, it was not their first protest, and they ensure it will certainly not be their last.
“It was an overall positive experience,” Eigbe said.