*Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that Forward.us was a partnering organization. The partnering organization was FWD.us. The Collegian regrets this error.
While Dreamers United hosted an event on the Plaza in support of immigrants Wednesday afternoon, Colorado State University Republicans built another wall.
Two demonstrations took place from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in response to the travel ban enacted via executive order by President Donald Trump. Dreamers United, a student group in support for undocumented students, was there for a campaign to send letters and care packages to Casa de Paz in Aurora, Colorado.
The second group, the College Republicans at CSU, were there in a counter demonstration, building a Free Speech Wall similar to the one they did in October.
Anarely Marquez, the social media director of Dreamers United, explained the event.
“We partnered up with FWD.us, and we’re doing a letter-writing campaign called “To Immigrants With Love,” she said. “It’s not a rally, it’s not anything like that, it’s just a place for people to come and write postcards to immigrants expressing their support and love.”
Marquez was pleased with the turnout of the event.
“On our Facebook page, we had about 1,000 people that were interested, and so far, we’ve definitely had a lot of people come,” she said. “It’s not a rally, so people just come and go in waves, but I’m really happy with the turnout.”
Many of the attendees stood around the booth and held up signs in support of immigrants. One woman, Colleen Fullbright, held a sign that was written in three different languages.
“If you’re my neighbor, I don’t care where you’re from. We need to learn a little more empathy and put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors,” she said. “I see immigrants. I see their hard work, I see them doing the best for their kids, and I see their fear. I see them having people exploit them in housing and employment.”
Soon after people began to gather around the Dreamers United event, college Republicans appeared on the Plaza and began to build a wall made out of cardboard boxes.
According to College Republican President Sara Andreas, the wall was meant as a way to demonstrate their free speech rights.
“(We) are hosting a Free Speech wall, which is meant to be a visual representation of a celebration of our First Amendment rights,” Andreas said.
She also explained why they chose that day, as opposed to any other, to build the wall.
“Other CSU students are expressing their rights all the time. We have CSU students that are going down to march in Denver for different activities, so we picked a day when people were already going to be expressing their First Amendment right on the Plaza to come here and create an inclusive space to do the same thing.”
Andreas acknowledged that choosing to build the wall was controversial, but said it was not meant to incite anger, instead acting as a “conversation-starter.”
She also said that building another wall in the future is not out of the question, saying that they had a much better response this time than the first time.
When the first Free Speech wall was built in October, many students were agitated and angered by it, with multiple people lashing out at it. One student slashed at it with a pair of scissors, and several others took boxes from it and ran off when it fell over from a strong burst of wind.
“We’ve had some really good conversations going today, and I think it would be beneficial to CSU’s campus to do another free speech event soon,” Andreas said.
Emily Faulkner, Vice Chairwoman of the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado, and a member of the College Republicans, went into more detail about the wall.
“Too often on college campuses and public universities, our First Amendment rights are being infringed upon,” she said. “We realized that Colorado State and other universities across the nation do have a free speech issue.”
After a rush of people that lasted from around 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., the crowds of both events began to dwindle. For the rest of the afternoon, attendees continued their open discussions and dialogues.
The event ended on a positive note, according to Juan Caro, Chairman of the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado.
“There were definitely times where things got heated, but after everyone had calmed down, we went back and shook hands,” Caro said. “Once we started to talk about policies and not politicians, we started to agree on a lot.”
Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notstuartsmith.