Students lead rally to support county homeless population
About 30 students, faculty and Orange residents attended a rally in the Attallah Piazza to support the rights of homeless people and advocate for permanent supportive housing in Orange County.
The Oct. 24 rally made its way to the Orange City Council chambers, with ralliers holding signs that read, “Being homeless is not a crime,” “Where can they go?” and “No unjust eviction,” while chanting, “When homeless rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
“It was absolutely important to hold this rally and mobilize Chapman students to become engaged in homeless rights activism,” said senior political science major Brad West, who organized the rally. “It was for Chapman students to give a voice to the people in the riverbed.”
One of the items on the council’s agenda was an ordinance that would prohibit the act of “aggressive solicitation,” or when a solicitor “coerces, threatens, hounds or intimidates another.”
All the students, faculty and residents who attended the rally addressed the council to oppose the ordinance, but the council unanimously approved the first reading. If the second reading is approved at the Nov. 14 meeting, it will take effect in the next 30 days.
“We made our voices heard. Nobody said democracy was a convenient process,” said Juan Bustillo, a junior political science and screenwriting major who attended the rally. “I would call it a success overall, even though we didn’t get what we wanted.”
The turnout for the rally was higher than the protest against homeless displacement at the Santa Ana Civic Center that West and senior peace studies and political science major Atty McLellan organized in February, West said. Ten people, four of whom were Chapman students, attended the protest last February.
“Nobody said democracy was a convenient process.”
“I was more impressed by, not necessarily the quantity, but the quality of the people that came out,” West said. “Almost everyone there marched down the street (to the city council meeting) and waited three hours to speak for three minutes.”
It’s especially important for Chapman students to engage in this issue, said Daniel Espiritu, a sophomore political science major who attended the rally and spoke at the city council meeting.
“We don’t all necessarily come from affluent positions, but the fact that we’re at a university does show that we have a lot of privilege,” Espiritu told The Panther. “We need to be using that privilege to speak up for people who don’t have the means of coming down here and fighting for themselves.”
Richard Faulkner, a professor at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law and one of the guest speakers during the rally, spoke about the importance of Chapman students getting involved.
“College students are citizens like everyone else. It’s important for all of us to get involved. This really is something where everyone can make a difference for these most vulnerable people, and that starts with college students,” Faulkner told The Panther.
Nika Darrin, a senior kinesiology and peace studies major who attended the rally, studied abroad in South Africa last semester, where she learned a lot about poverty and homelessness issues firsthand, she said.
“I thought this rally would be a good place to go and voice my opinion and at least try to make a difference,” she said.
Kendra Klint, a junior sociology major, also attended the rally.
“Homelessness is a really prevalent issue in our community. It’s right in our backyard,” she said. “I think it’s important that we stand up for people that don’t have the means to do it themselves.”