UMaine students protest big money in politics


Students rally outside of Fogler Library on April 15, joining university campuses across the nation in the Million Student March. Photo by Maggie Gautrau, staff.

Students rally outside of Fogler Library on April 15, joining university campuses across the nation in the Million Student March. Photo by Maggie Gautrau, staff.

On the morning of April 15, a group of student protestors gathered by Alfond Arena in hopes of making a statement on the big money in the United States government.

“We are protesting to show our support for the Democracy Spring protesters in Washington, D.C., thousands of whom are risking arrest to bring the powerful message to our government and Congress that we are tired of big money in politics and voting corruption and we are ready for change,” Paige Melin, a second-year graduate student and organizer of this protest, said.

Melin learned of the D.C. protests on Monday, April 11 and spent the entire night and next day researching ways she could travel down to participate. She talked to friends and other students on campus who felt deeply about the protests and decided to organize a sit-in and protest at the University of Maine.

“This is a cause I have believed deeply in ever since I became politically conscious,” Melin said.

The protesters made posters and signs in the Alfond’s parking lot before their march. The signs included sayings such as “no big money,” “elections not auctions” and “overthrow oligarchy.”

At noon, the group marched from Alfond Arena to the entrance of Fogler Library, chanting, “one person, one vote,” “democracy spring,” “we are the 99 percent” and a slogan that is popular with the D.C. protesters — “we are unstoppable, another world is possible.” Once the group arrived at Fogler, they started a sit-in.

On April 2, a group of protesters marched from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., where thousands gathered to “reclaim” the U.S. Capitol in a peaceful protest.

The protests officially started on April 11 and lasted until April 16. The first day of the official protests, approximately 400 people were arrested for standing on the steps of the Capitol and obstructing pathways after police asked them to move. Each day during the protesting week, there was a different theme. April 15 was student and youth day, which is why Melin chose Friday to protest on the Orono campus.

The group walking down the mall received much attention and even gained a member toward the end of the walk. The hashtag, #democracyspring, is trending on social media, gaining more popularity as more groups across the country participate in protests.

“This event was mainly to stand in solidarity with those D.C. protesters, their efforts, and their bravery,” Melin said. “However, it was also an opportunity for those of us in the Umaine community who believe in the cause of Democracy Spring but who were not able to go to D.C. for any number of reasons to join in the movement and raise our voices against our corrupted democracy.”

Haley Sylvester is from Greenwich, CT and an undergraduate student at the University of Maine. She is studying Management and Marketing with a concentration in International Business and a minor in Professional Writing. She joined the Maine Campus in the spring of 2016 and currently serves as the News Editor.

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