It’s an activist’s world out there these days. Protests have become the new norm, and suddenly those who aren’t taking a stand are becoming the minority. This is especially true in the big cities – DC, New York, LA, etc – where activists are taking to the streets daily.
Over the last few days, I have read countless articles, statements, and stories of Americans standing up to help refugees, university presidents fighting for the protection of their students and families, and everyone from elected officials to freshmen in college engaging in protests. I feel empowered but also frustrated watching all of this happen – there is clear overlap between all of these different groups which should instill a sense of unity and common goal. Instead, we let our differences separate us. The president statements I wrote about yesterday are a good example. Universities all over the country are drastically different from one another – especially in regards to the student body –yet the statements all send the same message, demonstrating the solidarity taking place.
A few universities stuck with the messaging, but addressed campus-specific cases. The statement by the President of Ohio State University, for example, stuck out. The president begins by expressing relief that the wife of a student, who had been detained for hours and threatened with deportation after arriving back to the US from a trip to Iran, was allowed safe re-entry into the country. He drew on this sentiment of working together: “We are grateful for the hard work of so many over the weekend, including our elected officials, to help secure the release of our student’s wife detained in New York. Our focus is, and always will be, the safety and well-being of our students and the Ohio State community.” This story, though similar in plotline to others I had seen and mentioned in previous posts, is unique in the way it attracted attention from the university and was addressed publicly in an official capacity.
I got curious. So I dove into the story: Mohamad Zandian, a current doctoral student at The Ohio State University, was waiting for his wife Parisa in New York to return from a family visit to Iran when she was detained and then told she would have to go back to Iran and could not re-join her husband. Immediately, Mohamed and others scrambled to figure out how to have her released. This is when the university president and elected officials stepped in. They worked together to not only have her released, but also able to come back into the US. Wow. What a show of strength to help a singular student so drastically and efficiently! The Ohio State University has had a tough academic year so far – with an active shooter in the fall and now a dramatic public situation covered by local and national media.
The students took a stand as well! This past Friday, students across campus wore black in solidarity with Muslims affected by the ban, explaining that “in the face of division let’s stand together.” Organized by the Arab Student Union, this event drew hundreds and hundreds of students together in solidarity and was promoted by many groups on campus helping represent a larger student body. Through this research, I was thrilled to see that groups are also joining together on campus for another relevant cause – divestment! There is no better time to rally for such an important cause, and one that not only opposes hate and oppression, but also fights for human rights! Students on campus: you are the voices and you have the opportunity now to truly make a difference. There is nothing more empowering than that!
OSU President’s official statement: https://president.osu.edu/presidents/drake/news-and-notes/2017/note-from-president-about-immigration-policy.html
More stories, including Mohamed and Parisa’s: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/immigration-ban-stories/
Local newspaper article giving more context and information about the story: http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170128/wife-of-ohio-state-student-detained-released-from-trumps-travel-ban
Article in OSU school newspaper about the on-campus protest: http://thelantern.com/2017/02/student-orgs-plan-blackout-to-protest-trump-immigration-order/
Clip about protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMYnqM-yeq4