On Monday, Feb. 29, republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came to Radford University to have one last rally in Virginia a day before the first Super Tuesday.
The announcement was made public on Feb. 25 and tickets were available online to the public for free. People could register for up to two tickets in total, and some took that to their advantage; some got two tickets and decided to protest by not going in the hopes that there’d be empty seats in the Dedmon Center arena. Others decided to politely protest by going to the rally, but rather sit and read a book by a woman of color, instead of paying attention to Trump.
The doors of the Dedmon Center opened to the public at 10 a.m. and Trump was set to start at around noon. However, people started walking down to the center at as early as 8:30 a.m., and some students even skipped some of their classes to attend the rally.
Radford students, faculty, community and guests filled up the streets from 10 a.m. until around 2 p.m. Sophomore Hannah Rudman talked about how she felt waiting to get inside while in a big crowd outside of the entrance. “When we would move, we would only move a few steps at a time and that was frustrating. I was back to back with complete strangers. It was so disorganized,” said Rudman.
The Trump campaign stopped letting the public into the stadium at around 11:50 a.m., leaving approximately 11,000 people stuck outside in a huge crowd, where you could barely move. “I felt cheated,” said sophomore Jessica Wilson. “So many people got in just because they bypassed the whole line, people without tickets were allowed in, and they didn’t even fill the whole arena.”
After realizing they weren’t going to get inside, the crowd migrated to the big television screen just outside of the front entrance of the center to try and get a good view of the rally. Some people went on the roof of the arena, some went on hills, and some climbed trees in order to be able to see the screen, along with the 11,000 others trying to accomplish the same task.
Inside the arena, things got pretty heated in regards to how the audience was responding to what Trump was saying. “Trump said some pretty outrageous things and instead of recognizing these negative comments they [the crowd] were completely enthralled by it. The students were proactive and stood up for themselves, despite being kicked out,” said sophomore Sonya Fessehaye.
A female student held a sign up in the arena, showing her opposition of Trump’s views, and after seeing her, he asked if she was a Mexican just because she doesn’t agree with his political views. Even though RU allowed him to rally on campus because saying “he has the right to free speech”, Trump wouldn’t let his audience have that same right, unless you had the same political views as himself. Some students protested in the stands, and after being discovered by Trump, were forced to leave by Trump’s security, even though they were protesting in a well-mannered fashion by holding hands and doing chants together.
The rally was a very hectic experience for those who attended both outside and inside of the Dedmon Center. Whether or not anyone agreed or disagreed with Trump’s political stance, it was a popular event for Radford that we will all remember.