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In response to the recent protest undertaken by members of the Open Air Outreach and the subsequent counter-protest on the part of students, Kevin McElwee ’18 has established the PUFightsHate fundraiser through Venmo.

“We were sitting around being angry about it and we were [trying] to think of ways it could be productive,” said McElwee. “It’s mostly been a word of mouth thing; it’s my Venmo and I made the flyer, but for the most part I’ve just asked people to share it and to donate.”

McElwee is a staff writer for The Daily Princetonian.

All of the funds collected by PUFightsHate will go to the Malala Fund and the Trevor Project.

Within the first hour, the fundraiser received over $450, and most recent estimates have it currently over $800, McElwee said.

“It’s definitely been a team effort,” said McElwee. “We just thought this would be a productive thing to come out of something that was definitely not a fun experience for a lot of people.”

The fundraiser was in response to the actions on the part of members of Open Air Outreach, who told passersby that they were “disappointment[s] to God” and “going to hell,” among other disparaging comments.

“After engaging with the guys for a bit, my anger switched to sadness — nothing I said to them and nothing I asked (no matter how politely put) was going to make a difference to them, and all I was doing was wasting my breath,” wrote Faridah Laffan ’18 in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “It's satisfying to feel like your fury isn't going nowhere, and that you can turn it into something concrete.”

Devin Kilpatrick ’19 said there was intense activity about the fundraiser on Facebook.

“The fundraiser is another example of how students at Princeton step up when they see something they don’t like, and try to combat it,” said Kilpatrick. “It’s midterms week and a lot of people tend to put their heads down, but even during midterms when people were really busy, no one was going to tolerate that.”

Anna Macknick ’21 emphasized how impressed she was that, in the face of what was seen by so many as an overwhelmingly negative experience, it turned into something productive and helpful. Macknick was also part of the counter-protest against the Open Air Outreach, holding a sign that read “Spread love not hate.” One of the first counter-protestors at the site, Macknick said that she thought the counter-protest lasted several hours. The counter-protest included over a dozen students, all arguing with Open Air Outreach’s rhetoric on the sidewalk.

“It’s really great that we can make a positive impact after such a night of hateful events,” Macknick said.

The Venmo link is @PUFightsHate. McElwee said that the fundraiser would close March 14 at midnight.

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