Eastern Michigan University's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated hosted "Dear Donald Trump," an open forum for students, on Tuesday, Oct. 3. The event provided a safe zone for students to have an open discussion about the current President of the U.S. and the many recent events that he has had impact on.
Alpha Phi Alpha opened the floor to hear students opinion on how they may feel towards President Donald Trump’s recent actions. The fraternity even provided a hashtag on twitter, #DearDonaldTrumpEMU, for audience members to tweet prior to and during the event which was used to prompt different topic of discussions.
“We came up with the event idea because he’s [Trump] a hot topic right now and it’s kind of different for the President of the U.S. to be such a hot topic,” said Tremain Lasenby, host of the event and current VP of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Through all the current events that’s going on now-a-days, he also is one of the main subjects in the media.”
Alpha Phi Alpha opened the event with a set of guidelines in order to set the tone for the event. They allowed the audience to decide upon them. Some of those rules included: ”One person speaks at one time,” “attack the opinion and not the person,” “listen to understand,” and, “respect.”
“Politics in general can be a very hot topic. It can be something that stirs a lot of controversy,” stated Quentin Francis, President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. “The first thing we wanted to do when we came up with this event, was make sure people were respectful of each other. We know that it can result in a lot of viewpoints from people with different backgrounds and opinions. We believe no progress can be made if we don’t respect each other, so the guideline was the first thing we wanted to address.”
The event proceeded, with topics that would stir conversation amongst the audience. Some of the topics included the recent presidential campaign, racism against minorities, DACA, healthcare and, also, the importance in voting.
“I think this was a great event and it was the start of conversation that we need to have as millennials,” stated former student body president, Tanasia Morton. “A lot of times we don't like to talk about politics, how we feel, and how our representatives are representing us. So, I like how we talked about our issues, but definitely coming to an ending with solutions.”
Beyond just the discussion topics, some people that came to the event were more so just adamant about their dislike for Trump.
“He’s problematic! That’s literally it,” says audience attendee, Jalaeh White. “We got a lot of things off our chest at this event, in a political way that still explained our disappointments for the President.”
“I do wish there were different colors of people here.” Jalaeh added. “There were not many caucasian people here and I feel like if they were here and they could speak out to what they are feeling, along with what we feel, it would have a greater impact ”
The audience was made up of majority African-American students but the purpose of the program was to target every student from different backgrounds.
“The idea was to get as many people as possible to make it diverse as possible,” stated Tremain Lasenby. “I even wanted some Trump Supporters there as well if I could just to get their opinion and get this open discussion out on the floor. They might also could have helped with the solutions because we might have more in common than we think.”
The event was set up as a footstool to create awareness toward greater social awareness. In the conclusion of the event, Alpha Phi Alpha wanted to use audience participation to help create a letter to the president himself using some of the ideas and opinions that were made at the event.
“We wanted to write a letter, as an EMU community, to ask him [Trump] some of these problems and questions we may have,” Lasenby added. “It’s actually going to be a real letter. We have Quentin Francis, who is our President, who will be hosting lobby tables to see who else wants to support and sign this letter and send to the president himself.”
The goal of Alpha Phi Alpha’s event was to create an impact that lasted longer than the duration of the forum, so they invited representatives from NAACP to set up a voter registration table at the event.
“It’s very important for people to vote because everyone has a voice,“ stated Taurean McMichael secretary of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Voting is something people fought for their lives; got bit by dogs just for us to vote. And I take that seriously because I want to make sure I live up to what they fought for.”
If there are any students looking for information on voting registration visit usvotefoundation.org or visit Tanasia Morton in the Student Center in room 348.
For more updates on the program, along with the signing of the letter to President Donald Trump, follow Alpha Phi Alpha’s instagram, @eh_alphas