College campuses and the cities, towns and communities within which they reside do not always share the best of relations. There can be a divide between the students who go to the college and the citizens who live in the town. But in Forest Grove, such a divide rarely seems to exist.
On Sept. 7, Pacific University students, faculty, staff and members of the Forest Grove community joined together to rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The one-hour rally saw a united front of more than 130 people gather on the corner of Pacific Avenue and College Way to defend DACA which protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, after President Donald Trump’s administration announced its intentions to end the program.
A plethora of signs and posters that read “Defend the Dreamers” and “Save DACA” were held high by rally members, and chants like “Dreamers make America great” and “Trump listen, we are in this fight together” were shouted in unison at passing by cars and pedestrians crossing through the intersection during the rally.
“I am the granddaughter of immigrants and I love this country,” senior Sonja Aguilar, who participated in the rally said. “What truly makes America great is the diversity we have here. And I will do anything to defend it.”
Senior Alex Chambers, who is the daughter of an immigrant and currently studying to become a teacher, participated in the rally as well. According to Chambers it is important to try and educate the people and protect Americans who are currently being discriminated against.
Though the rally drew support from areas all around the community, there were a select few who decided to voice their disapproval for DACA by shouting, “Go home” at rally members as they passed by the demonstration in their cars.
“Why would someone yell ‘go home?’” Aguilar said. “I was born here.”
Pacific faculty and staff were well represented at the rally as well, as several professors took time out of their own days to stand in solidarity with the students and community members to fight for DACA.
“We belong to a teacher’s organization and a liberal arts college that stresses the importance of humanities,” Professor Lorely French, who works in the languages department and who also attended the rally said. “These types of gatherings certainly bring people together on issues, and allow us to express commitment to education and human interest.”
The Forest Grove chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) which works to delegitimize racist institutions and fight for a fair economy, was one of several organizations who helped to organize the rally. SUJR member Charlotte Lumae said she was surprised to see so many community members come together for DACA.
“This is one of the biggest turnouts I have seen in Forest Grove” Lumae said. “There’s a lot of positivity.”
Though the rally only lasted one hour, Narce Rodriguez, Pacific’s Executive Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion said this rally was a step in the right direction.
“This rally was important because we want to support our DACA students and their families,” Rodriguez said. “Some of them won’t come out because they’re afraid, but we can be their voice. We can speak for them. We can represent them.”
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