Militant Journalism

University of Illinois students walk out to protest Jeff Sessions

On Feb. 1, Jeff Sessions arrived at an auditorium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Gregory Hall to give a keynote speech on behalf of the conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation. The doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and seats were filled quickly. As soon as the former U.S. Attorney General approached the podium to speak, students and allies led by Students for Socialism and Liberation at UIUC, the student branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation Champaign-Urbana, stood and walked out of the auditorium. Chants of “Whose campus? Our campus!” rang through the halls as the crowd was led to a demonstration outside the building.

“We’re out here to show opposition to the ideas and politics of Jeff Sessions, and that they do not represent this campus. In fact, they have disrespected this campus by sowing hatred against immigrants and people of color, creating mass poverty and desperation, and destroying the environment,” said Jared Reuben, a community organizer with PSL Champaign-Urbana.

As a senator, Sessions voted against environmental regulations and for expanding oil drilling in the Arctic on Indigenous lands; as a virulent transphobe, he pushed to keep marriage heteronormative. As attorney general under Donald Trump, Sessions sought to roll back rights for immigrants and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. He was instrumental in implementing family separation that began with Obama, but under the Trump administration, was made a top priority. 

In opposition to Sessions and the capitalist system enabling him, Students for Socialism and Liberation has formed alliances throughout the UIUC campus in order to resist him and his ideology. Students from all backgrounds recognized the harm towards the working class caused by capitalists, so in direct opposition, they stood up and walked away.

“Jeff Sessions and his class have put our society into crisis,” said Reuben, “and we are here to show the community there is an alternative future and it is socialist.”

Feature photo: Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign protest former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking on campus. Liberation photo

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