SGA announced on October 18 that Maryville College signed up for the I Stand with Immigrants campaign in partnership with the organization FWD.us. SGA’s Diversity Matters Committee plans to host events and present the stories of Maryville College immigrants to build support and promote solidarity for the immigrant community.
The national I Stand with Immigrants Initiative is a collaborative effort by FWD.us, a pro-immigration lobbying organization. According to the initiative’s website, the initiative “leads narrative campaigns that empower immigrants and their allies to share stories and drive action that demonstrate immigration is good for our communities, economy, and country.” The I Stand with Immigrants campaign includes specific goals to engage colleges and universities across the U.S. in activities that align with the initiative’s mission.
SGA’s Chair of the Diversity Matters Committee and Latinx Student Alliance (LSA) President Alexa Maqueo-Toledo initiated MC’s participation in the campaign, signing up through the organization and receiving guides, supplies and t-shirts for being one of the first 160 colleges to sign up.
Maqueo-Toledo said she had heard about the campaign in past years but was not sure under which campus organization to host events and partner with FWD.us until the Diversity Matters Committee, whose purpose is representing minority groups on campus, was created.
“I didn’t think LSA should be the one holding it because not all immigrants are part of the Latinx community,” Maqueo-Toledo said. “… but since I’m Diversity Rep this year, I was like, ‘Of course it relates to it.’”
Before signing up, Maqueo-Toledo consulted with SGA President Haley Davis and Vice President Maddie Taylor to secure permission for hosting these events through SGA.
In the past few years, MC has reinforced its commitment to welcoming immigrants, whether documented or undocumented with International House, the college’s partnership with the Equal Chance for Education (ECE) Foundation and other measures to ensure accessible education for immigrants. However, some conflicts have arisen over the same time, motivating students to urge on the change through SGA or directly with administration.
“I feel supported by admin,” Maqueo-Toledo said. “Do I think they could do better? Yes, but I do also know that they are working to do better, and that it’s not going to be within a week’s change… I definitely think it’s more of the student initiative of people just coming in and bringing more awareness to it.”
The committee planned to host an event on October 28 for the I Stand with Immigrants Day of Action, but the short turnaround time between signing up and reserving the time and resources for the event created challenges that prevented the event from happening. However, Maqueo-Toledo is confident that the official event will now be held in the spring. She additionally would like to see a budget allocated to the committee by SGA so that more events like this can be hosted in the future.
“I hope that it’s not just a one-time thing,” Maqueo-Toledo said. “I definitely hope that whoever is my successor that they continue with it, because it is an annual event, and it also brings good publicity to the school as far as prospective students, it’s a good way for students to find the school.”