Sydney Miller: Rallying for Love

Miller in Washington Square, the scene of her protest.

In the week following a shocking election, NYU students have united to protest hatred. At student-led events on campus, people were given the chance to show solidarity with marginalized communities that might feel threatened by the current political climate.

This outpouring of support has been immense and cathartic, with rallies like the Muslim Students Association’s Rise Above Hate on Thursday, Nov. 10 at Kimmel garnering the support of hundreds of students and faculty in response to the vandalism found at the Tandon prayer room. Another protest on Wednesday, Nov. 16, had students staging a walk-out of their classes to gather at Washington Square Park to declare NYU a sanctuary campus.

Gallatin sophomore Sydney Miller organized a love rally that reached beyond campus to bring people together at Washington Square Park on Friday, Nov 11. Miller’s Facebook event has been shared with more than 27,000 people, with 20,000 indicating their interest and 9,400 stating that they would go. Though she never intended for her action to get as big as it did, Miller wanted to provide a space for those in communities that have been attacked to feel safe.

“I felt like I needed to say, ‘Hey, just because this person won the election and this was the result, doesn’t mean that the entire country now hates you and refuses to protect you,’” Miller said. “I wanted to show these communities that we were going to show up for them, that we weren’t going to abandon them.”

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Miller was inspired by her friends and family who were devastated by the election results. Although many protests were explicitly anti-Trump, Miller wanted a more affirmative, positive message to provide support in a contentious time. 

“I really wanted a place where people could speak their fears and sort of make a commitment to each other that they were going to actively support those things,” Miller said.

Though she admitted running the first part of the rally was terrifying because she did not know what people were going to say, Miller committed to her plans of letting anyone speak, even extending the opportunity to those who did not agree with the rally.

“Letting people speak who had problems with what was going on was a really good way to diffuse the situation,” Miller said. “Instead of stewing in their anger they were able to express what they were feeling and what they wanted.” 

Hundreds of people gathered at 2 p.m. when the rally started, and the crowd only grew larger as the day went on, ending at 9 p.m. Miller noted a shift in the mood of the crowd throughout the day, but was pleased that the night ended positively.

“In the morning it was a lot of people who were ready to yell about things, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Miller said. “Later in the day, it was more hope-based and more about coming together. Whether you’re expressing hope for the future or just anger at the situation, those are both totally valid, and I’m happy that they had a place to do it.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 21 print edition. Email Kaitlyn Wang at [email protected]

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