In recent days, Bowdoin students attended protests and organized campus groups to fight against actions taken by the Trump administration, including the president’s executive orders on immigration, which halted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and limited refugees.

Last Friday, a group of students held the first meeting of Indivisible Bowdoin, an organization based on the Indivisible Guide, a manual written by former Congressional staffers which details how individuals can effectively pressure their senators and representatives to take action.

“There [are] a lot of politically active people on campus. We can put that to good use,” said Dylan Devenyi ’17, one of the group’s founders. 

Devenyi and the other group leaders—Olivia Erickson ’18, Liam Gunn ’17, Chamblee Shufflebarger ’18 and Matthew Jacobson ’17—reached out to politically minded groups on campus, hoping to channel students’ enthusiasm and anger into direct political action. The group’s plans include weekly meetings, a Facebook group and email newsletters about contacting representatives regarding various issues.

“Hopefully [we] keep continually reminding our senators and representatives that we are paying attention to what they are doing,” said Erickson.

She cited Maine Senator Susan Collins’ decision to vote against Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, as evidence that constituents’ opinions and efforts can shape how their representatives vote. 

The group plans to meet at noon on Fridays. As of press time, their Facebook group has 145 members.

Students have also been organizing to attend protests away from Bowdoin. On Sunday, over 30 students traveled to the Portland International Jetport to protest Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The protest mirrored similar actions at other airports across the country. Protesters gathered in the Jetport’s baggage claim area, many carrying signs bearing political statements supporting refugees and immigrants. 

Many of the students who attended found out about the event at short notice.

“I have a car here, so I went, gassed up, found some people in the [Coles] Tower lobby, filled up my car and we went down,” said Jack Mitchell ’17.

Trump’s immigration ban hit close to home for Ana Timoney-Gomez ’18, herself the daughter of two immigrants.

“The idea that the United States is a nation of immigrants has always been said to me and been of importance,” she said.  “Seeing this has been very disheartening and disappointing.”

Mitchell agreed that the executive order was not American in spirit and was ultimately rooted in bigotry. He believed that the implementation of this policy called for more involved action than usual.

“I felt strongly that I needed to stand up in a way more than just calling my senators, which I already have been doing, and posting angry things on the internet,” Mitchell said.

Diane Russell, a former member of the Maine House of Representatives, led the jetport protest. Several immigrant and refugee residents of Maine also spoke, as did the mayors of Portland and South Portland.

Students found the speeches by immigrants to be particularly powerful. Mitchell recalled hearing the story of one Somali refugee who described his arrival and warm welcome to the Portland community.

“He was talking about what a beautiful thing it is how America accepts immigrants and what a storied part of our history it is,” he said.  

Many students attended another rally against the immigration executive orders at City Hall in Portland on Wednesday evening. 

To help students with transportation to protests, Victoria Pitaktong ’17 started Bowdoin Protest Rides, a Facebook group in which students can share information and find transportation. As of press time, the group has 208 members.

Pitaktong herself didn’t attend the Portland protests. She highlighted that student activism does not have to involve leaving campus.

“Right now there’s a disconnect between national concerns and campus. I see a lot of people are very encouraged to go to protests in Portland and all these things, which is great,” she said. “At the same time, I think people don’t realize that those threats actually apply to students on campus. There are students on campus who are actually distraught by these bans … You don’t have to go all the way to Portland to show your support.”

Pitaktong noted that protesting—especially off campus—can be time consuming and exhausting, particularly in the lives of already-busy Bowdoin students.

“Sometimes it takes a toll on my mental health, and my physical health. But when you think of how much your friends are trying to do this, you have to be there,” she said.