A new student organization, Progressives at Eastern Michigan University, held a protest march through campus, Thursday afternoon.
“We're here as part of the Million Student March that's happening across the nation,” said Kira Dallaire, a graduate student in special education for students with learning disabilities. “And we are protesting for tuition free college, $15 an hour minimum wage jobs in college and universities and [the] elimination of student loans.”
Dallaire, the vice president of the organization said that to get their message across, the protest purposely went around administration buildings. They marched around the main campus with signs, shouting pre-prepared slogans like “We are fearless! We are bold! We are more than what we owe,” and “Money for jobs and education, not for rich administration.”
According to their Facebook page, Progressives at EMU is “dedicated to progressive ideas and candidates.” While Dallaire said the group is nonpartisan, some students clearly supported Bernie Sanders. There were just as many signs supporting the Vermont senator as there were supporting their specific goals. Dallaire did say though, that they weren't affiliated with Sanders' national campaign, since his campaign isn't formally in Michigan.
“Education is a right, not just for the rich and white,” was another one of their slogans.
This peaceful march was co-organized by the president of the organization, Greg Func, a senior majoring in nursing. Func said he had Dallaire found the organization in support of Sanders to “promote political activism through student action.”
Despite the afternoon's chilly, persistent November wind and constant drizzle, it attracted around 30 students who stayed throughout the march. At times, their slogans echoed off the bricks of the buildings.
This was their first march, though Func did say they had had tables at the Student Center in the past and they have future activities planned.
During the march, some students came and went, while others heard the students and joined. One such student was Madison Bressler, a freshman majoring in music therapy.
“I definitely believe in the movement for free education for everyone,” Bressler said.
Taylor Kirchoff, a senior anthropology student, braved the weather for the whole march, having found out about it on Facebook. She is a senior in anthropology.
“I believe everyone should have a debt free education if they want one and livable wage at $15,” Kirchoff said. “And I was inspired by Bernie Sanders protesting in the 60's for civil rights. I'm a multiracial, half African American student, so it means a lot to me.”
While passing along Cross Street, and crossing East Circle Drive, there were a number of cars that honked in support.
Not everyone supported the march however. As the group of students passed Buell Hall, late in the march, someone from one of the windows shouted “Bernie Sanders sucks!”
The protesters gathered on the grass between the Rec/IM and Pray-Harrold at about 4:00 p.m. Dallaire and Func thanked the students for participating. Dallaire finished the march with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, “Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That's the way the system works. And since we know the system will not change the rules, we will have to change the system,” Dallaire quoted.