More than 100 students walked out of their classes at Goldsmiths on Monday, February 20, to show solidarity with migrants across the world.
Students and staff members, led by the Students’ Union and Goldsmiths UCU, met outside the Richard Hoggart Building at 1pm to take part in the protest ‘1 Day Without Us’, a national day of action to appreciate the contribution of migrants in the United Kingdom.
They shouted anti-Trump slogans, including “Donald Trump, go away. Racist, sexist, anti-gay!”, while parliament was debating Donald Trump’s visit to the UK; a discussion prompted by a recent online petition that reached nearly 2 million signatures.
Daniel Nasr, President of Goldsmiths Students’ Union, said: ‘As a migrant myself, I have lived here for five years and in those five years I have never experienced as much hate and anxiety as in the past eight months. We are seeing a government turn its back on migrants, enabling and legitimising racism. As parliament debates, we protest; as parliament debates, we must speak up.’
People all over the UK shared their thoughts, photographs, videos and placards on social media using the hashtags #1DayWithoutUs and #Students4Migrants as well as the ‘1 Day Without Us’ Facebook and Twitter pages to take part in this day of unity and mutual support.
Tara Mariwany, Goldsmiths’ SU’s Welfare and Diversity Officer, said to students, teachers and guests: “Initiatives such as 1 Day Without Us show what society could look like. Our voices need to be louder, stronger and united. But let me say this: it is also up to us to pass on the megaphone to those who need their voices to be amplified the most.”
Malia Bouattia, the first female Black British and Muslim President of the National Union of Students (NUS), also took part in the protest, supporting all students and workers.
Nasr thanked everyone who took part in the protest and said: “Students, workers and migrants we must always continue to fight for our rights collectively because the liberation of one is meaningless without the freedom and solidarity of the other.”
Parliament Square was flooded with thousands of people in protest over what they termed Theresa May’s appeasement of Trump’s views and policies. Activists started reaching Westminster at 1 pm and left late in the evening. Many carried the flags of their countries with them, supported by universities, museums such as the Tate, trade unions, national organisations and workers from anywhere in the world.
Activists have planned other protests in the coming weeks.