Editorial: putting out the flames of fear

students gather to talk about border patrol
Students assemble around a speaker who is expressing concerns about the U.S border and customs protection coming to CSUN for the career fair on March 27th, 2017. Photo credit: Alejandro Aranda

Under Trump’s administration, and with recent ICE crackdowns, fear and tension can spread through Southern California like wildfire, preying upon our landscape and threatening our communities. Nestled in the northern San Fernando Valley, our campus climate can easily become consumed by these flames of fear. However, we can prevent this from happening if CSUN, administration and student body alike, work together to put out the misconceptions and myths that fuel fear and focus on nourishing the greater needs of each and every student.

On April 4th, CSUN President Dianne Harrison released an email declaring that Student Affairs has been issued to “consolidate law enforcement-related agencies and recruiters into a focused event.” This is following the protest that took place during the Career Fair in which students assembled against the presence of the CBP in the fair and in support of undocumented students.

The decision to create a separate career event in response to voiced student opinion is crucial in finding compromise. Harrison is reaching to find a compromise between the various needs our diverse communities on campus desire. However, the timing of this decision raises certain questions.

Before the career fair was held, Harrison released an email on March 27 notifying students that the CBP representatives would be part of the career fair. This betrays a potential foresight that the administration had towards student reaction. Knowing that the CBP’s presence at the career fair could upset our community on campus, nothing was changed. Although there’s clarification made that the CBP “…are not agents of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – ICE,” the fact that this information needed to be addressed is indicative of the level of fear that can spread through miscommunication.

The purpose of the CBP at the career fair was not to recruit students to actively deport other students, and though this agency serves the larger aim that the government has in securing its borders, CSUN still stands as a sanctuary. Our campus prides itself in its tenacity to protect and advance the rights of its undocumented student body, despite external pressure.

The focus on a career fair should be first and foremost on students’ career opportunities–but all students for that matter: those who look to work in law-enforcement and those that may feel threatened, confused and\or afraid because of the presence of certain agencies on campus. The concerns in regards to protecting the rights of our undocumented students is shared and expressed by both the administration and our student body, but action must be followed with similar care.

Successful compromise comes out of the ability to see others’ perspectives. Administrative decisions on campus should be made with crucial consideration to what it’s like being in the shoes of a student whose life will be inextricably affected by such decisions. On one hand, having a law-enforcement specific career fair will benefit students that wish to explore their opportunities in such fields, but there still remains the potential for conflict because of the tension that is created from their presence on campus.

Sympathy must be had for the concerns of both parties of students, and for the overall aim that all of us as students have: to achieve a career through our education. Moving forward, manners of compromise can and should be applied with the highest regard to students’ well being. For our large student body, the same considerations should be upheld. In this bond of unity, no one has to be burned by flames of fear.

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