Instead of taking a final exam, some ASU students organized a protest on the Tempe campus.
Corrections & clarifications: A previous version of this story incorrectly described students’ “final exam” options in the story and the headline.
A group of students at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus decided to protest Thursday as part of a final assignment in their human-rights class, a decision endorsed by their instructor.
In fact, Angeles Maldonado, a professor at ASU, offered her Global Politics of Human Rights class two “final exam” options: Write a research paper or create a group project.
They opted for the project. The group of about 20 students then decided the best plan would be to protest in front of Hayden Lawn by ASU’s library.
“The class decided that as a group project they wanted to make their voices heard about the issues that are affecting them today, so instead of just reading about the human-rights violations, they’d speak out about the current violations that are happening,” said Maldonado, who felt it was her duty as a professor to support their decision.
Maldonado’s students made signs and stood shoulder to shoulder to make a human wall. Eventually, other ASU bystanders were welcomed and joined in, picking up signs that created the slogan, “Wall Against Hate!”
The focus was opposition to many of President Donald Trump’s policies, with deportations and a call for a new border wall the major focuses.
“This was something that we all got together and said we would express some of the things we don’t like, so a lot of the other people here are protesting things like immigration, immigration ban, women’s rights, things like that,” said Alex Corella, 22, a student in Maldonado’s class who participated.
The group and those who joined them drew attention to a variety of issues, including LGBT rights, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, immigration, and even the prison system.
Maria Pakulis, a Women and Gender Studies major who is not in the class but joined the protest, said, “I’ve been going out to a lot of protests lately to show the administration that we don’t approve of them and to show the people in our community that there are people who support them.”
At one point, Arizona State University personnel asked the group to relocate in order to stop blocking the sidewalk. Protesters then stood in a staggered line, with about a foot between each person, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder. Campus police then were called to the scene, as the protesters changed from holding signs to linking arms, walking back and fourth in front of the grassy area of Hayden Lawn.
Passers-by had some difficulties finding their way around the linked demonstrators, so ASU’s campus police stepped in to give a second warning, this time directly to Maldonado. The chain of people then progressed onto Hayden Lawn to avoid any other warning and the protest continued without incident.
Many of the protesters eventually dispersed, either running to class or to another engagement, except for Maldonado’s class who remained on Hayden Lawn. Corella was glad to be there with his fellow students and said, “This is better than a final.”
The ASU administration issued the following statement about the classroom protest in response to a request for comment from The Arizona Republic:
“As an institution of higher education and an environment that promotes academic freedom, Arizona State University supports the free exchange and expression of ideas. All individuals and groups on campus have the right to express their opinions, whatever those opinions may be, as long as they do not violate student code of conduct and student organization policies and do not infringe on another student’s individual rights. This policy applies to all students.”
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