Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, November 18, 2018

Latinx leaders frustrated with university response to anti-immigration posters

Five groups call for meeting with university leadership

Latinx leaders frustrated with university response to anti-immigration posters

Latinx student leaders gathered on Jan. 22 to draft a statement in response to the discovery of eight anti-immigration posters that afternoon. 

Following the discovery of eight anti-immigration posters on campus Monday, student leaders from five Latinx organizations are calling for administrators to offer more resources to students targeted by the far-right rhetoric advertised by the flyers.

The leaders felt the statement emailed to students by Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw on Monday was not “thorough enough,” according to a statement they made as a group.

“I’m frustrated because, as of now, nothing has happened,” said sophomore Erika Soto, a lead organizer of AU’s contingent at the “Clean DREAM Act” rally in November. “The school sent out an email, but I don’t think it was sufficient enough because no resources were provided for those students who were affected.”

Aw’s statement prompted them to organize a community meeting Monday night, said Rafael Cestero, secretary for AU’s chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (AU LULAC). There will be another meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in Hughes Formal Lounge at 8:30 p.m. to “congregate, heal and take action,” the Latinx and American Student Organization (LASO) posted on their Facebook page Tuesday morning with hashtag #UnitedWEStand.

“These flyers deeply offended the AU Latinx community, which led to Latinx community organizers to come together and establish a meeting where we addressed the concerns of the xenophobic attacks on the AU campus,” the Latinx leaders’ statement said.

Their statement was signed by five Latinx organizations: LASO, Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi (LPC), AU LULAC, Voto Latino at AU and Organización de Líderes Latinoamericanos (ODELL).

The organizations are now specifically calling for administrators to meet with Latinx leaders to “address the growing concerns regarding issues of safety and support for the Latinx community,” the statement said. They also want to see a “strengthened” relationship between the student body and university police, according to the statement.

“Now more than ever, the community has to unite while the current presidential administration is pushing an anti-immigration agenda,” the leaders wrote.

The Eagle attended the drafting session of the statement Monday night. Cestero said his initial reaction to the posters was “outrage.”

“I was angered and in disbelief that this happened at a university that I think does, in general, fight for the best of what America has to offer,” Cestero said. “But, I am not surprised by the posters in the current political climate.”

Romina Martin, the president of AU’s LULAC chapter, also attended the meeting where the statement was drafted. When she was 9-years old, Martin said, she and her family came to the U.S. from Peru for a better life.

“We came here for a better future and you know, to send out that email, it made our experiences invalid,” Martin said. “My mom and I are [now] both citizens and we have that privilege, so I can only imagine how the posters that were up affected the undocumented community.”

Martin said the University should have listed resources for the immigrant community.

“I just think that the school should have reacted a different way and to show the freshmen, the new students, the resources that we have on campus,” Martin said. “We do have a lot of first [generation] students and a lot of them are from home, so for them to see this, it makes you question: ‘Am I in the right space?’”

Sophomore and AU LULAC member Liz Rivas Villnaueva also said she wasn’t surprised by the posters, referring to previous incidents like the nooses and bananas found on campus in May and Confederate flag posters in September of 2017. She said the statement from AU made her feel “insulted” and that the stories of her immigrant family didn’t matter to the University.

“A lot of other people on campus have similar stories and I feel like the way the school handled it wasn’t the best form because they’re not acknowledging that immigrants come to the school, too, and that we have DREAMERS and DACA students,” Rivas Villnaueva said.

“The fact that this issue is being ignored by the school in one simple email like hours after the incident happened really raises the question if AU stands with our immigrant community,” she said. “And as a student, I feel like it doesn’t.”

mcarrasco@theeagleonline.com


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