The Simmons Voice would like to recognize President Helen Drinan’s email to the Simmons community regarding the recent executive order on immigration as a positive step toward denouncing Islamophobia. The email illustrated that the administration is in tune with the values and concerns of its students.
However, if history has taught us anything, it is that Simmons has always been an active player in the advancement of marginalized groups. An email does not do justice to its status.
Simmons administration should take a more active role in addressing concerns regarding President Trump’s executive order on immigration if the College wants to truly advance the themes of diversity and inclusion.
If “Simmons College espouses values of inclusion that make it impossible for [President Drinan] not to react to these discriminatory actions that threaten the very fabric of our community,” why don’t we remedy that by strengthening our own fabric and leading by example?
We are grateful for President Drinan’s past leadership and political activism, especially in regard to the progress of women’s education worldwide.
Through her past service with the Peace Corps in the Republic of the Philippines, she carries with her important lessons of “the need for cultural understanding [and] the need to treat every person with dignity and respect,” as she reflected upon in her 2014 article “Amid the World’s Violence, Hope for Women and Girls” in the Huffington Post.
We want her to continue using her voice and more importantly, actions, to make change happen at Simmons. We thank President Drinan for being responsive to the needs of members of the College.
We also want to echo President Drinan’s words of wisdom in her 2014 Huffington Post article that, “whether fighting for equal pay for women in the United States, or providing access to an education for girls in a remote village, all world citizens—men and women—should be relentless in agitating for equality and justice for all.”
However, President Drinan’s most recent email came off as too neutral for many in the Simmons community, as Voice Staff Writer Jennifer Ives noted in her article in last week’s issue. Provost Katie Conboy also weighed in on the subject this week in her “Letter to the Editor,” which can be seen on the opposite page.
Provost Katie Conboy says at the end of her “Letter to the Editor” that “sometimes courage looks more like discretion than confrontation.” While we understand the college’s neutral stance on the immigration ban to cater to everyone’s political views, this neutral stance isolates affected students instead of uplifting them.
When Simmons decides to send an email about its compliance with federal laws, we are not being courageous, we are being passive bystanders under a new administration that seeks to unfairly target immigrants.
Emails are passive. An email can be marked as spam and ignored, but a physical display cannot be so easily ignored. We need a physical display of Simmons’ dedication to protect its students, no matter where they come from, no matter what tongues they speak in, no matter what religion they follow.
If we want to make a statement, we need to make it loud for the nation to hear, like the University of Michigan, which declared itself a sanctuary campus. In this turbulent political atmosphere, students have a right to feel safe and not othered by their college, by a place they call home.
One idea of how to address the executive order on immigration is through craftivism (craft activism). We could create a quilt of patches designed by students surrounding the theme of immigration, diversity, and inclusion.
Members of the Simmons community who want to participate can buy a patch for a small fee (perhaps $2) and all funds raised would be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to, “protect the rights of refugees and immigrants—and everyone across America,” according to their website.
As a physical display in a common area like Common Grounds Café, the quilt could show solidarity in the face of the executive order, while also funding an active social justice organization.
Another idea is to more clearly outline the services available to students, as President Drinan did at the end of her email “Update on Sanctuary Campus Status” on Dec. 16. For example, she mentioned that students have access to an immigration lawyer at Simmons’ expense.
We should also make sure to indicate places on campus where students can go to for advice or resources, such as the Center for Global Education, which provides support to international students.
Although international students make up only three percent of the Simmons population according to our website’s “Quick Facts” sheet, they should not feel like they are an insignificant part of our community. Let us come together and take action to support members of the Simmons family.