I was 17 years old when I first stepped foot on DePauw’s campus. I fell in love with the community involvement and the complex conversations that many students had. I was 17 years old when the financial aid representative told me that DePauw wasn’t the school for me because of my family’s class status. The representative began generalizing my mother’s occupation to racializing Latina stereotypes, assuming my mother “babysat, cleaned, cooked or did agricultural work.” She later advised me to look into a different school, since DePauw couldn’t support my education. That fall semester, I came into DePauw having won six outside scholarships. Though that was three years ago, I still replay the representative’s words over and over again in my head. As a homeless, first generation, Latinx, DePauw was not made for me. Whether it be institutionally or socially, navigating DePauw’s campus can be very difficult if you ascribe to a marginalized identity.
Our campus has always dealt with racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia, but with the recent election of Donald Trump, my peers have been increasingly vocal in expressing sentiments of hate towards Muslims, immigrants, refugees, Black Lives Matter, the LGBT community, and so forth. As a daughter of undocumented parents, I strongly oppose the policies and initiatives being placed by Donald Trump. It is mind boggling to think that a peer next to me can spew so much hate towards communities that I heavily identify with. Since Trump’s ascension to power, I have witnessed the aggression of my peers: “Get out,” “You know where the borders are,” and poking fun at the idea of building a wall. These same students proceed to travel to different countries and spread the “white savior complex” to the same countries and citizens that these policies are affecting. It is disrespectful to the thousands of immigrants and refugees that have lost their life in pursuit of the American dream. It is disrespectful to the undocumented migrant workers that labor in fields and restaurants that provide food for you and your family.
The same entitlement that my peers who strongly oppose my existence is the same entitlement and right that I have to fight for my communities. I challenge DePauw administration, faculty, and students to check your documentation privilege. There is a clear distinction between those who are born with papers and those who don’t have documentation privilege. Many students on this campus are living in fear that their loved ones will be deported, or face even more blatant discrimination. As a collective we need to take a greater responsibility for our actions and statements, especially those regarding undocumented or refugee communities. Consider following the action list below:
- Challenge your friends, chapter, and family to openly discuss this topic
- Avoid terms like “illegal,” “alien,” and “legal immigration”
- Donate to immigration lawyers that support immigrants/refugees
- Inform students and parents about their rights
- Demand for DePauw to host financial aid workshops for students with undocumented parents
- Demand for DePauw to offer financial support for undocumented students
- Demand for DePauw financial aid representatives be trained to deal with paperwork pertaining to homeless or undocumented youth
- Demand for DePauw to review their policies and procedures for unintentional barriers and obstacles for students
- Push for a sanctuary campus
- Push for culturally competent and responsive mental/emotional health services