After hearing about President Donald Trump’s immigration bans, Elon University junior Maddy Gross knew she needed to act.
In late January after hearing about Trump’s executive orders, Gross took to Facebook and expressed her interest in hosting a comedy show in protest against these policies and to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I attended a comedy benefit for Handicap International over Fake Break,” Gross said. “Not only was it a great show, but they also revealed that because of that night alone, they’d raised over a thousand dollars for Handicap International, and it wasn’t even a huge show.”
This sparked the idea to create a similar benefit for Muslim community in reaction to the ban on immigrants which bans people from a number of primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
“I knew immediately that this was something I needed to fight against,” Gross said. “It’s a scary time to be any sort of minority nowadays. I recognize how privileged I am to be white and ‘Christian-passing,’ as I sometimes joke though I’m Jewish, and if I don’t use that privilege to help out, how can I live with myself?”
What started as a small idea and a short Facebook status resulted in a highly successful show which helped raise more than $500 for the ACLU.
The benefit took place on Saturday at 8 p.m. in McKinnon Hall.A $5 donation was required to attend the event, but many students chose to donate more to the cause. They could donate cash or show a receipt from donating to the ACLU online.
One of Elon’s all female a cappella groups, Shirley Tempos, performed a song to begin the event. Student comedians Hannah Benson, Mikey Gibeley and Spencer Hodges followed and Gross, a comedian herself, closed out the show.
“The moment I heard about this, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it,” Gibeley said. “Two of my greatest passions are social justice and comedy, so the fact that I have the chance to combine the two and really do something great while making people laugh is such an honor.”
For Gibeley and Gross, the negative news cycle of today makes the need for comedy and entertainment even stronger.
“It’s so important to laugh, especially now,” Gibeley said. “For me, it’s my coping mechanism. I’m not going to lie, I am terrified. I am terrified for myself, for my friends, and for my family both in and out of the United States, but my coping mechanism is to laugh. If I can bring a smile or laugh to other people who are experiencing the same fear as me, then I know I am doing something good.”
Gross hopes to host another benefit sometime this spring. Until then, those who want to support the cause can donate money to the ACLU by visiting https://action.aclu.org/secure/protect-peoples-rights-liberties?s_src=UNW170001SEM&alt_src=UNV170001SEM&ms=gad_SEM_Google_Search-Evergreen-ACLU%20Brand_ACLU%20Donate_aclu%20donate_p_169710879118.