SDS hosts rally advocating for rights of immigrants

Jay Mafela

While the rainy weather kept most students indoors, it didn’t stop some students from stepping out to the green to spread their message to others.

The Students for a Democratic Society held a rally to advocate for the rights of immigrants and students on campus.

According to junior Tionna Seabrook, a letter was sent to the Office of the President regarding protection policies for undocumented students, such as publicly establishing that UNF is a sanctuary campus.

However, SDS says they have received no word or response for over a week. During this time without response, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in order to help raise awareness to the US-Mexico Border Wall.

“It definitely added fuel to the fire of what we were doing,” said Seabrook. “This is exactly why we sent out the letter and why we need a response now more than ever.”

The rally began with brief messages by members of SDS. Between each member, the crowd gave out a chant that loudly declared that they are against Trump’s declaration of emergency and they will stand up for the undocumented students.

After the final speaker, the group made a march to the UNF Office of the President to discuss the details of the letter.

“When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” One of several chants used during the march.

At 3:50 pm, the group reached the Administration building and occupied the Office of the President lobby until they could meet with administration to talk about the letter. After a quick meeting with executive director Chris Warren, it was announced that the propositions would be considered and discussed at a later date.

Spinnaker obtained a copy of the letter.

Dear President David Szymanski,

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) would like to thank you for your willingness to connect with us in the fall semester. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to proactively share ideas that will better the University of North Florida. SDS hopes to continue to foster a partnership with you and your team. As stated in earlier communication, SDS is an activist group that advocates for the safety and equal treatment of all students. We believe that it is our responsibility to be not only mindful of national events, but to be equally mindful of the influence that those events have on fellow UNF students. President Trump’s administration was, and still is, willing to shutdown the federal government in an effort to build a wall that keeps the “other” out of this country. The impact of national xenophobia is felt on this campus, and it wounds the student body. This letter serves as a request that you publicly denounce racism and xenophobia. We demand President Szymanski:

  •     Designate UNF as a sanctuary campus
  •     Send out a public statement reaffirming DACA protections
  •     Non-Compliance with ICE

As we study history courses at UNF, we learn numerous accounts of national and global disregard for human rights. Frequently, there are students who cannot fathom these heinous occurrences. They incredulously ask the question: How did people allow this to happen? SDS members need not ask that question because we presently recognize national apathy regarding the abuse of immigrants at the southern border. We know that the U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) is disregarding human rights. We know that this mistreatment is fueled by national complacency. And, we know that complacency is fueled by silence.

We are earnestly asking you to resist harmful silence. There are UNF students who feel uneasy in the midst of this national frenzy. And, you are in a unique position to offer calming words. You are in a unique position to meet students’ needs in ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing. Our neighboring Florida universities have made recent displays of solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and undocumented students. We demand that UNF follows in suit. As always, we will be following up accordingly.

Committed to a better tomorrow,

UNF Students for a Democratic Society”


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