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Students find many ways to dissent from Milo event

In a wide open workshop with folded stacks of canvas and an old blue sewing machine, students and professors gathered to create banners. A few buildings over, students sat in a dark theater learning about astronauts, discrimination and space tampons.

Both events were organized to give students an alternative to protesting Yiannopoulos or going to see the controversial Breitbart editor speak Friday night.

Advancing Women in Science, a relatively new student group, held a screening of the documentary “Women in Space.”

The film traces the history of discrimination against women and people of color by NASA, and the experiences of women who worked writing code, becoming astronauts and working as pilots in the space program.

Stephanie Fox and Catalina Tome, two members on the executive board of AWS, said they didn’t consider their event being held in opposition to Yiannopoulos. Rather, they wanted to provide a venue where people felt empowered and inspired on a day they might feel down about Yiannopoulos’ visit.

Fox said the security for Yiannopoulos affected the turnout for their event, which was held in the SUB Theater.

“People were actually turned down,” she said. “People were told that it was canceled even though it wasn’t.”

The attendees that did come, however, were enthusiastic about the film, delivering an ovation when it was over.

“I’m a military veteran and went to a military academy and actually know some astronauts,” attendee Kris Hardy said. “I did not know the story about the beginnings of women in NASA. That blew me away.”

The group also offered postcards from the recent Women’s March, which attendees could fill out and send to their legislators in an effort to make their voices heard on political issues like reproductive rights and climate change.

Graduate student Gene Ellenberg and electronic art professor Lee Montgomery were just two of the art students and faculty who organized art workshops Friday in banner making, print screening and power aerobics.

The event was organized in conjunction with the “We are the Core” poetry series that was held at the Kiva later in the evening, Montgomery said.

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Ellenberg said they wanted to offer an event that focused on celebrating the diversity on campus because they felt like Yiannopoulos’s rhetoric didn’t represent UNM or the Albuquerque community.

Montgomery said the goal of the event was to express unity in opposition to hate.

He said they were originally planning to parade around the SUB with their banners but, when they saw the amount of security for Yiannopoulos, they opted to stay within the Art Building and display their banners from the breezeway instead.

“I was at the gym in the locker room changing into my gym shorts, and a riot cop comes in with his guns in his holsters and says, ‘Do you know where the bathroom is?’ and it was just like, ‘You have a gun.’ So yeah, after that we decided we were going to keep it to the building a little bit more,” Montgomery said.

He said he believes the University’s decision to bring in APD and state police before the event encouraged Yiannopoulos’ desire for division.

Graduate student Sallie Scheufler performed her piece “power pose aerobics” — a satirical piece in which she played the part of a peppy aerobics instructor and parodies the idea that you can just hold your body a certain way and solve all of your problems.

“I feel like it aligns with this kind of event where we’re talking about resisting and speaking up,” she said, adding that the goal of her piece was to encourage audience members to be aware of their bodies.

Montgomery said the event also featured talks about everyday resistance tactics and non-illegal interventions to change the way people think.

Gesher Bridge, a community member who attended the event, said she heard about it through Facebook and, being new to New Mexico, was looking for ways to get involved.

“I think it’s really cool to set up a workshop building these kind of skills and then have some way to actually apply them directly after. I think it’s actually ingenious,” Bridge said.

Bridge said she planned to protest Yiannopoulos after the event.

Unlike Bridge, UNM student Joseph Day wasn’t excited to make art work, but he also planned to protest after the event. He said he hoped the event would help prepare people to protest constructively.

“I think we need to raise our voice,” he said.

While some of the art workshop attendees ended their night at the protest, Advancing Women in Science went out to a pub.

“We were happy to be surrounded by positive people who are empowering, watching an empowering film,” Fox said.

Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter 

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