Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Calling for action and unity

Yamillet Payano offers students opportunity to "make AU a safer place"

Calling for action and unity

As I sat at the Thanksgiving table looking at the carefully placed arrangements, adorned with the usual turkey, potato salad, stuffing, cranberry sauce, my favorite pumpkin pie and apple pie, I realized that something was different this year. I realized that all the things that make me thankful--my family, my friends, my education and my mobility-- are at risk under a Donald Trump presidency.

The outcome of the 2016 has taken me by surprise and created a sense of uncertainty in the hearts and minds of all marginalized groups. I witnessed our campus community deal with it individually, watching the different stages of grief written on people’s faces: shock or denial, anger or depression and of course, there were the few who celebrated.

It was obvious that the emotions of the first week began to blend into the background as the distractions of life took over-- the holidays, our upcoming finals-- but I’m writing to remind you, despite the fact that we must concentrate in our classes, we have a moral responsibility, as the educated youth of America and as the privileged students that live in the nation’s capital, to make our voices heard and take action.

We have witnessed, in the early stages of the Trump administration, tactical responses to make marginalized groups feel threatened. Trump is giving power to white nationalist sympathizers, inexperienced billionaires and loyalists. While some believe checks and balances will be in place, we know we must preemptively do our own due diligence, ensuring our campus remains a safe space for all people no matter what color, status, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin. I worry about political desensitization, making Trump’s administration seem normal. This is not normal.

Therefore, whether you belong to a marginalized group or not, you can stand among us. I would like to extend this as an offer to AU’s student government, organizations, faculty and community to work together to develop a plan, through careful planning and deliberation, that will meet the needs of the members of the AU community.

As I extend this offer, I want to tell you that we are ready to tackle one particular action in response to Trump’s clear intent to rescind Obama’s response to the DREAM Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a safeguard for immigrants who entered the US as children and who are bettering themselves through education to be deferred from deportation. There are records kept for those who are participating in this program, making it an easy place to start if he intends to follow through on his threats of mass deportation.

Join the pre-planning team to help do the background research to brainstorm best practical solutions as we start on these next four years. Our ultimate goal is to not only make AU a safer place for its students, but to also join local and national movements to make us a stronger, united force. We’re looking for organizers, researchers and creatives. Please write to us how you can offer your help if you’re interested in working on this pre-planning team, to have our talents combine to challenge injustice.

Please reach out to auacts@gmail.com to lend your support and help us collectively decided how we students can take concrete actions.

Rachael Scheinman also contributed to this piece.

Yamillet Payano is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences


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