Young Democrats show support for DACA recipients

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

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Senior Olivia Vasquez performs a spoken word piece at the Mountain Day talent show.

Over Mountain Day weekend, Berry’s Young Democrats hosted two demonstrations to show their support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The club partnered with senior Olivia Vasquez to express support for DACA students at the Mountain Day Talent Show last Friday. During a spoken word piece by Vasquez, which focused on using her voice to stand up for justice, several members of Young Dems and Orgullo joined her at the front of Ford auditorium. The demonstrators silently held up posters advocating for DACA awareness.

Posters read: “I stand with immigrants,” “149 Days” and other comments expressing concern for DACA students and the program’s time limit.

According to Orgullo president Suleima Milan-Salinas, Young Dems and Orgullo had debated potential protest opportunities, but were hesitant to wreak havoc. The groups originally wanted to host a protest on Krannert lawn. According to Milan-Salinas, Berry has proven hesitant to allow large, public demonstrations in the past, so the groups took a different approach.

“We wanted to do something that would get the word across without getting in anyone’s hair,” Milan-Salinas said.

On Saturday at the march, club members and other demonstrators wore black armbands with the number 149 painted on them. The number signified the number of days until March 5, which is when DACA expires for those who did not renew by Oct. 5. 

The armbands were made by Young Dems president Katherine Edmonds and other club officers. Edmonds said that about 40 bands were made and requested by members of the Young Democrats, other students, faculty members and one parent. She delivered the bands on campus on Friday, and participants wore the armbands during the Grand March.

“We wanted to do something that would show a united front, which is why I think the Grand March was a great place to have the demonstration,” Edmonds said. 

According to Edmonds, the demonstrators did not want to distract from any Mountain Day activities, but to show their support for DACA recipients. In her opinion, the armbands were a good way to start conversation without starting controversy. Edmonds said the most important thing to the Young Dems was raising awareness of the DACA program.

“I took part in the event… to bring awareness to the school and community about the status of DACA… [and] to open a dialogue so those who are misinformed are able to understand this dilemma and make a rational choice on whether or not to support it,” junior Connor Dillard said.

Edmonds and Milan-Salinas believe that the demonstrations went well and want to continue to raise awareness about DACA.

“These are students in our community, these are our friends,” Edmonds said. “These are people who are really critical to our school, to our community, and also to our nation as a whole.”

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