'Harvard Student Power Network’ Mobilizes Students Against Trump

Some Harvard students have banded together after the presidential election to form the “Harvard Student Power Network,” a group intended to unite activists at the University against President-elect Donald Trump.

The group first formed in late November in response to Trump’s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary R. Clinton. The idea for the network arose from discussions between Harvard’s student activists in the days following the election, according to Sonya A. L. Karabel ’18, an active member of the group and an organizer with the Student Labor Action Movement.

"Harvard Against Hate"
Students protest Donald J. Trump's victory in Harvard Yard in November.

“The idea is to increase communication between different segments of the activist community so that we can stand together more effectively,” Karabel, an inactive Crimson editor, said. “If anything huge comes up, we can really quickly mobilize. Maybe something like we really need to protect undocumented students now because mass deportations are a threat.”

Karabel and several SLAM members sent emails to a number of Harvard activist and cultural groups—including Divest Harvard and the Black Students Association—to recruit members for an anti-Trump coalition. A group for the Power Network on the messaging app GroupMe currently has 75 members, Karabel said.

Since its founding in late November, the student coalition has met twice in Boylston Hall, drawing approximately 40 people to each meeting, according to Karabel. She added the group is a “work in progress,” with members still “hammering out” details like leadership structure and timing of future meetings. Currently, the group consists mainly of undergraduates, though Karabel said several graduate students are involved.

The group will kick off its first event, a three-day program intended to teach Harvard students about activism, Tuesday. The event, called “Planning the Resistance: A Student Power Activist Training” and slated to take place mainly in Boylston Hall, includes speeches and workshops led by Harvard students, graduates, and local activists.

Each session on the schedule tackles a different topic. In her workshop Wednesday afternoon, for example, Black Lives Matter Cambridge organizer DiDi Delgado plans to instruct students on “nonviolent direct action.”

Anwar Omeish ’19, a member of the network who helped organize the training, said the event has three goals: to foster connections between student activists, to provide attendees with a “political education,” and to build participants’ “skill sets” as activists.

“I hope people will leave feeling empowered with the skills and the knowledge that they can then take to organizing around important issues,” she said.

A Facebook event for the training invites Harvard students to “join the resistance” against Trump’s presidency and policies.

On the final day of training, roughly 30 participants will leave Harvard for Washington, D.C. to participate in protests against Trump on Jan. 20, when he will be inaugurated. Jonathan S. Roberts ’17, an active member of the network, said he thought the D.C. trip would help students understand what “resistance looks like.”

As she prepared for the network’s first formal event, Karabel said she is excited about the group’s ability to navigate an uncertain future.

“The idea is that this group can be called upon when something is really going down,” she said. “So we’ll see what goes down.”

–Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at hannah.natanson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.

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