One week from today, President Donald Trump is expected to have a 2020 campaign rally at East Carolina University’s Minges Coliseum, leaving students and community members with divided opinions about the event.
The campaign rally is scheduled to take place in Williams Arena next Wednesday at 7 p.m., according to Trump’s campaign website. Those interested in attending may register up to two tickets for the event online, and tickets are distributed on a first come first serve basis.
ECU News Services sent out a press release on July 3 to clarify that the university is not promoting, sponsoring or endorsing Trump’s reelection campaign. The press release said the facility is being rented out by the Donald J. Trump Campaign, an external party, which falls in accordance with the ECU Use of University Property Regulation.
“East Carolina University is committed to making its property and facilities available for use by internal and external groups and individuals, while at the same time protecting the rights of freedom of expression and association guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the press release said.
Shortly after members of the media announced Trump’s scheduled visit to ECU’s campus, students, faculty and members of eastern North Carolina communities took to social media to discuss the event.
The College Republicans at ECU posted on Twitter about their excitement for the POTUS visit next week, and tweeted: “@RealDonaldTrump the East Carolina University College Republicans are excited and proud that you will be hosting a MAGA rally at our university! If you have not already, register for your tickets to the rally!”
@realDonaldTrump the East Carolina University College Republicans are excited and proud that you will be hosting a MAGA rally at our university! If you have not already, register for your tickets to the rally! https://t.co/fZt5W9wPPV— College Republicans at ECU (@ECU_CR) July 8, 2019
Chairwoman of the College Republicans at ECU and senior political science major, Emma Arndt, plans to attend the rally with her organization’s executive team. She said the organization represents the Republican party on campus while standing for traditional American values and conservative thoughts.
“Obviously not everybody is going to agree with Donald Trump, but he’s very outgoing and I think that this is going to be a great opportunity whether they’re (attendees) Trump supporters or they’re opposers to come out and, kind of, listen to what the president has to say,” Arndt said.
According to Arndt, the rally presents an educational experience, and encourages people to take the opportunity to see the sitting president speak in person. She said she believes people will be able to take away valuable lessons from attending the rally, whether it be developing in personal or political beliefs.
Arndt said she predicts North Carolina will be a battleground state for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. She said, by coming to a smaller city on the eastern part of the state, the rally will be impactful in his run for reelection and it shows the president’s support for the common person in America.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of people come out, especially from eastern North Carolina, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have people travel from all over North Carolina, maybe even outside of the state, come and see him,” Arndt said. “I think he draws in very large numbers for his rallies so I would expect some heavy traffic here in Greenville.”
Arndt said she is prepared to have fun at the rally, and sees the chance to see a sitting president speak at her university, regardless of whether they are a Republian or Democrat, as an amazing opportunity.
Arndt said she hopes Trump will take time to speak about college students during his rally at ECU since obtaining support of the younger generation is essential to political campaigns.
“I’d love to hear Donald Trump speak about young people,” Arndt said. “I think maybe being on campus would give him the opportunity to do that, to speak about younger voters.”
Amy Bright, a 5-year resident of Greenville and 2016 graduate of ECU, created a public event on Facebook, “‘Protest Trump and the treatment of migrants at the border!’,” with the plan to organize a peaceful protest the day of the rally.
In an interview with The East Carolinian, Bright said the protest is specifically focused on the treatment of asylum seekers, and other immigrants, at the Mexican-American border. She said she views the rally as an opportunity for people to voice their opinion on immigration policies and the situation at the border.
“The issue we’re focused on is the morality of what’s happening at the border and it’s unacceptable,” Bright said. “Anybody who cares about people in general should be absolutely furious about what’s happening.”
Bright said the protest is expected to begin at 6 p.m., however, additional details are not yet confirmed as she is in ongoing communication with the Greenville Police Department (GPD) coordinating specifics, such as location. She estimates the protest will bring together a few hundred people.
The objective of the protest, according to Bright, is to peacefully air grievances in a safe manner and location. She said there is not a desire to stop the event or be in the way of traffic during the protest, and for safety reasons she does not personally plan to enter Minges Coliseum as the rally takes place.
“I’d like to just stress we’re not protesting Trump,” Bright said. “A lot of people, the narrative is, ‘well liberals just hate Trump,’ (and) I don’t think that that’s true. I think we dislike a lot of his policies and this particular policy (immigration) is abhorrent and it goes against our values as Americans.”