Stephen McNulty did not start the week with a plan to protest. But on Friday afternoon, he and 100 other concerned citizens marched from the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine through Baker University Center, down Court Street and ended on College Green.
The march was in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which has since been temporarily stopped. McNulty, a medical student, said he had tried to put off the march but felt the time was right.
“I was trying to avoid all of this because it makes me angry, but I thought if I’m not doing anything about it, then being angry is pointless,” he explained. “So I said I gotta do something. I sent out a bunch of emails to see if anyone else was organizing, and no one was, so I did it.”
McNulty said he hoped for the march to go smoothly and peacefully — it did — and to get out a message.
“We are marching just to let all our international students, and colleagues and friends know we support them, and Donald Trump does not speak for us, and they do have allies here,” he said. “This is just one of the tenants of medicine. We need to look out for everyone, and that doesn’t end with people who are like us.”
Other students felt the same way. Lia Rosa Brunetti, who is a graduate student studying physical therapy, is the daughter of immigrants and marched for their right to live in America.
“My dad is an immigrant and is now an American citizen, but for a long time he wasn’t,” she said. “I can’t imagine the turmoil people are going through of not being able come here after so long of getting all their papers and getting here, and knowing how hard that was for my family, let alone coming from a war-torn country.”
Emma Fish, a graduate physical therapy student, thought the march was a great venue for expressing views, particularly since the march was “pro-love and pro-welcome and not anti-anything.”
“It is interdisciplinary and it is professional,” she said. “We can come together as healthcare and not just as our separate professions, and say you are welcome, we will treat you and care for you, we will defend you.”
The march ended peacefully at College Gate with a crowd of over 70 people. Jacqueline Wolf, professor of the history of medicine and chair of the department of social medicine at OU, ended the event with a few words on the march’s mission and her hopes for the future.
“It is especially important for those of us in health care to speak out in these kinds times. Concern for the health and welfare of others is exactly why we do what we do,” she said. “Our medical school does a wonderful job of recruiting a diverse student body. We do that because we value and honor people from all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It means nothing to say we value diversity if we do not all work to assure that everyone is treated and offered the same opportunity for advancement and protection from exclusion and harassment we all deserve in our daily lives.”