With the arrival of United States Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton at East Los Angeles College on Thursday at 4:45 p.m., the campus will be buzzing with supporters and non-supporters.
With rumors of protests attempting to block Clinton from speaking at the ELAC Men’s Gym circulating on campus and social media, it is important that the campus as a whole respectfully exercises the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The First Amendment grants the right to freedom of speech. Both Clinton’s supporters and non-supporters have the right to respectfully exercise this amendment.
The amendment also grants the freedom to peacefully assemble, which is a human right, a political right and a civil liberty.
This is not a Campus News or ELAC endorsement for any of the 2016 Presidential Candidates, but rather a reminder that having events such as this are intended to benefit our community.
ELAC has been privileged to have welcomed influential people on campus from artists to politicians, such as award-winning author and journalist Hector Tobar and former U.S Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.
In 1992, former U.S. President Bill Clinton also spoke at ELAC during his first presidential campaign.
As many have seen in the recent news, violence only hurts those who try to express themselves through protest.
With plans of protest by groups that are not affiliated with ELAC, it is essential to maintain a peaceful and safe environment on campus.
However, for those who are not affiliated with the school, it is difficult to determine their intentions and this only brings a level of unpredictability.
Their lack of ties with the school do not give them a solid reason to maintain respect and safety.
ELAC does not deserve violence or destruction on campus by participants, whether they are students, faculty or outsiders. We have a beautiful campus that should be respected.
Aggressive forms of protest damage the reputation of not only the school, but also the reputations of other presidential candidates, whose supporters are often the ones who are at these events, rather than getting a point across.
Students who oppose Clinton should take this opportunity to open a peaceful dialogue with the candidate instead of fueling rage and hatred to a guest of our campus.
Hosting events like this on campus creates a space for discussions about issues that affect a community college campus.
If you are one of the few who managed to get a ticket in, think of questions to ask Clinton during the event. The college experience is about engaging with various viewpoints.
People attending this event are not just supporters of Clinton.
They will include people who wish to experience something as interesting as having the woman coming closest to occupying the presidential office of the United States speak in their community.
Not everyone gets an opportunity to do that. Supporters of other candidates may also take the opportunity to attend so they can understand all sides of the political platform.
If you are planning to protest, you have every right to do so, but just be safe and smart. Educate your fellow classmates and community members on issues that are important to you and engage in sharing ideas rather than dismissing them.