Swatties attend Trump rally, slurs heard

Content warning: This article contains racial, ethnic, and anti-LGBTIQ slurs and ableist language

On Tuesday, September 13 at 7:00 pm, an independent group of Swarthmore students staged a protest at a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Aston, Pennsylvania. While at the rally, people yelled racial slurs and, in at least in one instance, spit on, the Swarthmore students.

The event took place at Aston Community Center, which is roughly fifteen minutes from the college by car. According to Washington Post correspondents Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa, Mr. Trump unveiled at the event a child care policy proposal in a speech said to be influenced by his daughter, Ivanka. In anticipation of the event, several Swarthmore students, including Taylor Morgan ’19, organized their classmates for the protest by posting on Swarthmore student Facebook groups and holding a poster-making session Monday evening. The Facebook posts note that transportation and dinner would be provided as a part of the event, though how these were funded for is unclear.

Nate Urban ’18, a board member of Swatties for Hillary, an officially recognized student group in the campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, stated that Swatties for Hillary had no involvement in the coordination of the protest.

“There were no members of Swatties for Hillary at the event to our knowledge. We passed on hosting this event. We put in an email that it was happening, but we do that with like, everything. We didn’t sponsor it in any way,” Urban said.

Swarthmore students described that the way they were treated by attendees at Mr. Trump’s event as both surreal and full of hate.

“… [I]t was absolutely surreal, we were completely surrounded by Trump supporters screaming at us and intimidating us and yelling racial slurs,” Stern said. Among the things heard, Stern pointed out that bystanders at the rally called a Latinx-identifying student a xenophobic slur repeatedly, and also asked a Black-identifying student a racially charged question repeatedly.

When Stern was standing at the front of the contingent of Swarthmore students at the event, a bystander approached him and told him to “take off those faggy Jesus shoes and put on some work boots,” and then proceeded to spit on him. After the incident, Stern was so shocked he was not sure how to respond.

“I can’t even describe how surreal it was. Like, you know how you see those crazy Trump supporters on TV that beat people up at rallies? [The rally] was basically hundreds of them,” he said. In hindsight, Stern says that his experience at the rally fundamentally changed how he viewed this election and, despite his experience, said it was worth attending.

These sentiments were echoed by Brendan Werth ’20, who also attended the event. He said that many of the remarks were specifically directed at the students of color in the group of Swarthmore students. Werth noted a woman angrily asked if they had “forgotten about Benghazi,” and another said the students did not pay taxes and that the bystanders payed for the hypothetical welfare checks of the college students.

“Seeing [the rally] was definitely eye opening, and I wish more people could have seen what a large part of the U.S. really is like, and not very far at all from our campus,” Werth said. He also stressed how important it was to keep anyone who represents these people away from the office of the Presidency and the Supreme Court.

“… the saddest part for me was the amount of children there. Dozens of kids from ages eight to fifteen or so [were at the rally], screaming racial slurs and intimidating us. Lots of toddlers, too,” he said.

After the event, the group of Swarthmore students left the Aston Community Center to return to the college.

The Phoenix will provide more information on this developing story as it unfolds.


  1. I think it is an absolute disgrace that you would write an article like this! Not only was I there, but many people from our Township that stood at the exact location your picture for this article was taken were and have said nothing of what you mention happened. The lies and the awful hash tags you are using is a disgrace! You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to make 1: our community look bad and 2: do exactly what the media is already doing and spinning the truth to make one presidential candidate look better than the other.

    • An additional comment to me from a Swarthmore professor and friend of mine: “Spent much of this week supporting several of my students who peacefully protested a Trump rally in Pennsylvania. They were in tears describing being spat upon and experiencing the racial and other epithets that were hurled at them. They were also disheartened to see so many young people chanting slogans like ‘Build that Wall!'” Kelly P is either lying or is willfully deaf. Note also how Razi’s contribution tries (unsuccessfully) to invalidate the comments of many of the Swarthmore students named, interviewed, and quoted: they too were witnesses.

    • Editing before publishing seems to be a rather touchy point across campus publications…

      Also, “Dozens of kids from ages eight to fifteen or so [were at the rally], screaming racial slurs and intimidating us. Lots of toddlers, too”

      I am fed up will all the racist and intimidating toddlers. Let’s give them a good spanking with our Jesus shoes.

  2. To kelly p Do you see trumps daughter fliped the bird I guess not this stuff dosent happen in aston,I hope alot of peopl . Show up when trump comes to sun center.Will see what the bad asses of aston..Will do when bus loads of peopl . From.chester show up Ive been told there holding a rally this weekend to see who will be going .It was in th . Pape . Students from.chester high will be attending.

  3. This article begins with a disclaimer of “racial, ethnic, and anti-LGBTIQ slurs and ableist language,” yet, no such language is quoted or described with any detail. In other words, you felt the need to warn a reader that your article says, someone was called a “xenophobic slur repeatedly,” and that another student was “asked a racially charged question repeatedly.”

    So hyper-sensitive. Relax.

  4. When you arrive at a political rally carrying signs that accuse the attendees of being haters and demand that they “leave the state,” you are probably not going to get a friendly reception. Indeed they likely will insult you, given that you have just insulted them. You got the response that you wanted, partly because you carried insulting signs that invited the response.

  5. “I wish more people could have seen what a large part of the U.S. really is like, and not very far at all from our campus . . . ”

    You have no idea what a large part of the US is really like. You were a participant in a small incident that confirmed your own prejudices, which aren’t a whole lot different than the prejudices of the people you call “haters.”

  6. Just getting up to speed on “trigger warnings.” What is the point of the warning if you are going to abandon a journalistic reporting of reality, substituting factual quotes with whitewashed euphemism? It’s this kind of internal intellectual inconsistency that undermines any righteousness in your cause. Let’s try this: Swarthmore, focus on admitting academically qualified students and training them in the immutable discipline of logic and then use integrity honed with intelligence and discipline to effectuate lasting change. Let’s stop: admitting academically unqualified students on the basis of their cacophony of politically correct keywords meant to intimidate true intellectual discourse.

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