Kaylee Keesling, a sophomore creative writing major, and Christina Thibodeau, a sophomore double major in economics and international development and relations, stand on the corner of the Scramble Light Jan. 20 as part of their Poetry for Peace project. The two provided encouraging quotes and free hugs, while collecting donations for the American Civil Liberties Union, which works to defend freedoms and pushes for reforms against racially-biased criminal justice systems. Devan Sticka // DN
Poetry for Peace provides free hugs, encouragement after Trump's inauguration
After Donald Trump's inauguration Jan. 20, two students stood on the corner of the Scramble Light to provide encouragement and hugs to those in need.
“One girl jumped out of her car when the Scramble Light was stopped and came over and gave me a hug, and I had no clue who this woman was,” said Kaylee Keesling, a sophomore creative writing major. “It was just very powerful.”
As part of the Poetry for Peace project, Keesling and Christina Thibodeau, a sophomore economics and international development and relations major, felt it was important to take motivational signs and collect donations for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU is a nonprofit organization that works to defend freedoms and push for reforms against racially biased criminal justice systems, according to aclu.org.
Keesling created the project Poetry for Peace to bring a voice through poetry to issues regarding minorities on campus.
“This is the day I wonder if who I am as someone who is a woman, as someone who is a member of the LGBT community, as someone who doesn’t know if they’re valued by the incoming administration," Keesling said. "It’s a nervous day for me."
As a member of the LGBT community, Thibodeau expressed her similar thoughts and feelings.
“I have the same fears that she does as a member of the LGBT community," Thibodeau said.
Keesling said the project was created the day after the election to stand up for her personal beliefs and the freedoms.
“The project came a lot from something I did last semester," Keesling said. "The day after the election, I was still pretty raw. I was still pretty heart broken. I was still pretty confused."
Immediately after the election results came in, Keesling made plans to stand at the Scramble Light with a "free hugs" sign and soon came to realize that a lot of people around her needed the hugs to get through the day.
As the presidential transition occurred, students across campus expressed different opinions and feelings.
“I’m hopeful that people who are nervous like me, people who are scared, angry, people who are wanting change and this is not the change that they have wanted, will work to make that change,” said Keesling.
Keesling encouraged people to keep hope.
“This isn’t the end," she said. "We still have stories to tell. And that, you know, however dark, divisive, desperate that today and the next couple of days, weeks, months, years, may seem for some of us, it’s not the end.”