Jacob Lawson, News Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the New York Times, the Trump administration ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5. In response, on September 8, President Jake Schrum released a statement reaffirming Emory & Henry’s commitment to DACA. According to the American Immigration Council, applying for DACA means an immigrant can be granted deferred action, meaning immigration enforcement would use prosecutorial discretion and decide not to deport an individual. DACA provides for educational and employment opportunities for immigrants whose applications are accepted, including for students who attend Emory & Henry College.
Wanting to emphasize the importance of protecting DACA, the Emory & Henry administration put together a teach-in with faculty members. According to Merriam-Webster, a teach-in is “an extended meeting usually held on a college campus for lecture, debates, and discussions to raise awareness of express a position on a social or political issue.” Part of the reason for the teach-in was a lack of awareness from the students on the subject of DACA.
Vice President of Student Life and Student Success and Dean of Inclusion John Holloway said, “I really wanted there to be some education. To provide: what is DACA, really?”
Holloway and Provost John Wells organized the teach-in with Holloway saying, “It was my concept, but he [Wells] was very much a part of pulling it together.”
The teach-in was done mostly with faculty participation, with exception of some students from the “Activism and the Arts” Transitions Class. The faculty members included in the teach-in included Kelly Bremner, Mark Finney, Krystin Krause, Sarah Fisher, Shelley Koch, Travis Proffitt, Tal Stanley, and Jim Dawsey.
The reaction from members of the E&H administration and students was positive. President Jake Schrum said it helped with “explaining some of the intricacies of the issue that most people in the country, and maybe even in our campus, don’t know about,” and that the teach-in itself had “a warm and inviting atmosphere.”
Holloway spoke about audience reaction, saying, “it seemed like folks were sitting on the edge of their seats, and it just seemed like they were engaged” and that the experience of the teach-in was “enriching.”
Wells said the teach-in “really shed a lot of light on an issue that has been deliberately clouded by political interests.” Wells said he “would like to see us do something that institutionalizes the teach-in approach, and maybe do this so that everyone knows, the middle of September, we’re going to have a teach-in on some topic that has a social justice or ethical component to it.”
Junior Hailey Ellis explained the teach-in “was wonderful to see so many students and faculty who cared. This is a wonderful little campus.”
A first-year and recently elected senator, George Jones said that during the teach-in he “felt this tremendous sense of pride for being an Emory & Henry student, and an immigrant from Colombia and a North Carolina raised American,” but at the same time, “he felt troubled by the immense issue that hovers around the topic.”
Jones said, “their citizenship is not jeopardized by the way they act or interact with the American society but a choice that was taken by their parents to migrate to America; an America that became their America and their homeland, disregarding that a paper says otherwise.”
He said that “everyone in this country is, in some sense, an immigrant” and that “if we all work together in this divided society, we can accomplish a change and give hope to the DREAMers that belong in this country and have been robbed of a benefit they deserve.” Jones finished with a call to action, saying, “I am not a citizen of the U.S. but I do consider myself an American. I ask for E&H students to use that citizenship; that power they possess due to the blessing of being born here. Write to the congressmen. We, the people, need change.”
According to the Washington Post, there are around 690,000 DACA enrollees who “could face deportation if and when their work permits expire.”