EWU Graduate Students Lead A Campus for Dreams Rally
March 3, 2017
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In light of the Trump administration’s recent renewed focus on illegal immigration, a pair of EWU graduate students helped organize a rally in the campus mall in support of undocumented students.
Lakeisha Jones and LeeAndria Witcraft, the women who led the March 2 rally, are both studying social work and said the idea of the rally originated from a class assignment.
That assignment turned into more than just a grade to check off, as they wanted to show tangible support for their fellow students who may be undocumented, Jones said while giving a speech.
From the rally, the organizers said they hoped to achieve four specific goals from the rally. These goals included; to unify all the EWU and surrounding community to demonstrate support for the undocumented student population, to bring awareness to the issue, to pursue legislative action and to request the President and Board of Trustees (BOT) to specify to the EWU community the policies that protect undocumented students.
For someone like Jones, the importance of raising awareness cannot be understated.
“We don’t know what we don’t know [referring to immigration issues],” said Jones. “I wanted to bring awareness so that everybody knows we can come together and be a stronger force.”
In all, four speaker gave presentations. EWU freshman Daniel Lickfold and sophomore Ciprianna Seyler, both from the Native American Student Association (NASA), were the first to speak.
Lickford spoke on the history of immigration in regards to white settlers and Native Americans and he cautioned that we cannot turn our back on undocumented individuals being pushed out.
Seyler shared a piece of art she created, in which she attempted to symbolize unity in her artwork with the weaving of the MECHA logo and a raised black fist surrounded by pride colors.
Following the two NASA students was EWU Social Science Professor Pui-Yan Lam. Lam has been involved in activism during her time at EWU. She is one of the individuals who helped draft the petition for EWU to become a sanctuary campus, and she also helped coordinate last week’s immigration conference.
Lam’s speech at yesterday’s rally reflected that sense of activism; she called on EWU to increase the number of colored faculty and staff and introduced a proposal for “comprehensive allied training” for EWU with the aims of promoting diversity and inclusion practices. They presented that proposal to the BOT on Feb. 24.
George Duvall, program coordinator for Africana Studies, rounded out the list of speakers. Duvall, who recently began working at EWU this term, spoke on inclusion and the need for it, emphasizing his willingness to help those on campus who might need it.
Despite ill weather conditions, the turnout was substantial. Signs with messages of unity and peace were scattered through the crowd in the campus mall. Marches and chants were ample. One particular student, EWU junior Jevion Knox, made a concentrated effort to lead those chants.
Knox, who transferred from Yakima Community College last fall where he was the lead student ambassador for the student government, said coming out and showing support is a must.
“I’m just trying to find my way to be involved,” said Knox. “I know Eastern is a diverse campus but right now it’s not a sanctuary campus. So I felt like it’s up to us and up to the students to kind of raise our voice and take a stand.”
As for the future, the advocacy will not stop for Lakeisha Jones and company. Jones said she is going to attempt to educate further about raising awareness on campus about undocumented students, as some are set to have their visas expire soon. Just be aware is the goal, Jones said.