Michael Anderson, a sophomore studying psychology, leads as University of Texas at Arlington students gather outside of the E.H. Hereford University Center to protest three new state policies.

Some college students rallied Wednesday in Arlington to oppose new state policies they said hurt the most vulnerable communities on campus.

“Ain’t no power like the power of the people!” a group of about 15 students chanted at a rally at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Resistance is justified when people are occupied,” they continued. “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!”

The students gathered outside of the E.H. Hereford University Center to protest three new state policies: Texas’ ban on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in higher education; the immigration law that would give local police authority to arrest migrants; and an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott aimed at addressing antisemitism on college campuses that the students say actually limits free speech.

Students held signs, handed out pamphlets and spoke on a megaphone about what they called “the compounding effects of Republican legislation.”

Since the DEI ban went into effect Jan. 1, public colleges and universities across Texas closed or altered programs meant to provide resources for certain groups of students historically underrepresented on campuses, particularly Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ.

“The LGBTQ+ program was completely dissolved over the winter break very quietly by the administration,” said Seraphine Pecson, a sophomore civil engineering major. “A lot of students were wondering why, upon looking up the LGBTQ program or the services they provide, they would just get a 404 page on the school’s website.”

Pecson said that since the University of Texas notified dozens of employees in Austin this week that they would be laid off, “we’re left here at UT Arlington thinking that we’re next. It feels like a bit of an inevitability that these layoffs are going to happen.”

University leaders across the state have indicated that they’ve been working to find DEI staffers other jobs on campus since the DEI ban, also known as SB 17, passed. The news about the UT Austin layoffs were a surprise to many, advocates said.

Another issue students are concerned about is Texas’ new immigration law, known as SB 4. The law is going through the court system after being legally challenged with opponents arguing that the law interferes with the federal government’s responsibilities to enforce immigration law and could lead to racial profiling.

“There’s a very real concern that (campus police) could begin profiling students and, basically, inquiring about their status as documented or undocumented,” said Michael Anderson, a sophomore studying psychology.

Students have the right to not be profiled by police, he added.

Throughout the rally, the group chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” multiple times, despite Abott’s recently issued executive order that explicitly described the chant as antisemitic.

The chant – which refers to the area between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea – is not hate speech nor a call to violence, Anderson said.

“Nothing violent has emerged from us using the slogan in the past or other organizations using the slogan in the past,” he said. “But yet, we face the potentiality of students being expelled from the university based on the executive order.”

Pecson said that, as college students, protesting is the most effective way to have their voices heard. And no matter what policy Abbott passes, they will continue to speak up for what they believe is right.


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