Campus / Featured / National / News / May 3, 2017

M.E.Ch.A. marches, makes demands

On May 1, M.E.Ch.A. held a demonstration and march in honor of May Day, the day that began as International Workers’ Day and has since expanded to fight for all human rights. After gathering on the Gizmo patio, the students marched around campus and ended at Old Main, where students took turns speaking on the steps with a megaphone.

Sophomore Julieta Cervantes leads the May Day march through campus on Monday, May 1. May Day originally started as a day to improve workers’ rights, but has now evolved to include all human rights. M.E.Ch.A. submitted a list of demands to continue the sanctuary campus policies at Knox this Wednesday, May 3. (Dan Perez/TKS)

Senior Cheryl Cobbold read the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. Following her,

Matt Sugai ‘16 spoke on how they are on the DIY Galesburg collective, which brings in different music artists to perform in town. They urged all students in attendance to inform them of any minority-led music groups that could perform.

“I’m sick of booking cis-straight white boys,” Sugai said. “The Galesburg community is what needs these voices the most.”

Junior Courtney Kayiza expressed her frustration that Senate was reluctant to have a dialogue about the movement to keep Visiting Professor of Africana Studies Kwame Zulu Shabazz. She encouraged white students to call each other out and support movements such as the May Day protest.

Senior Marilyn Barnes told the crowd that it’s always the same few people showing up to these events and how important it is to communicate between organizations.

The march ended with closing remarks from the organizers and M.E.Ch.A. members junior Karla Medina and sophomore Julieta Cervantes.

Sophomore Karen Barragan, junior Yeomin Kim and Medina met with Amott and then put their list of 12 demands around campus. During the meeting with President Teresa Amott, they spoke about the demands themselves, what they entailed and how possible they were.

Amott said that there was nothing in the demands that was inconsistent with the policies that she outlined in her email to the campus on Jan. 29. Many of the demands consisted of continuing to uphold policies that were included in the email.

Senior Marilyn Barnes holds up a sign at the May Day march on campus on Monday, May 1. (Dan Perez/TKS)

“Their demands are completely consistent with what we’re committed to doing, there just are some recommendations that things we’ve done once be repeated, or something that’s on the website could be in a different place where it’s easier to find,” Amott said.

Other demands are newer ideas, such as having a website where information and resources about Knox’s policies can be shared. The students have already created their own website at knoxsanctuary.weebly.com.

Medina says that M.E.Ch.A. has been working with Amott since Winter Term, during which they cooperated to make the webinar with an immigration lawyer. They also spoke about the label “Sanctuary Campus” and why it would not be appropriate for Knox to adopt it.

“At this point, we’re not trying to push for the label of [sanctuary campus], because that’s something that can cause conflicts but we are trying to outline these things that can be done, the policies or the stance that Knox can take, that would benefit the immigrant and undocumented community and population at Knox,” Medina said.

There were also a few demands that Amott wanted to be made more specific, such as demands that requested the college to “support legislation,” which Amott said was a hard thing to concretely do.

“What I asked the students was, how would you know that we’re continuing to support it? What would be the visible sign to you that we are in fact in compliance with demand #12 and that’s an example where I’ve asked them for more specificity,” Amott said.

Medina hopes that sharing the demands around campus will get more people involved in supporting the movement.

“We also want people on campus who support these demands to let them know to President Amott, maybe shoot her an email standing in solidarity with us and the undocumented population on campus, basically unite students,” Medina said.

Even without the sanctuary label, Medina hopes to foster a culture of support for undocumented students on campus.

“We’re just trying to make it that we’re heard, we’re acknowledged, and these concerns that people are having are also acknowledged and aren’t being dismissed and […] Knox should be more supportive of that population,” she said.


M.E.Ch.A.’s Sanctuary Campus Demands

  1. Knox College will not allow government agencies to search the campus unless a criminal warrant is present.
  2. Knox College will create an official safety plan, laying out what steps will be taken if ICE comes onto campus. It will be made accessible on the website and through e-mail.
  3. Knox College will ensure, through formal training, that Campus Safety officers are knowledgeable about policies on the federal, state, local and college level regarding immigration issues, such as sensitive location policies.
  4. In the case that DACA is repealed, Knox College will provide the necessary financial support to DACA students in compensation, be it through employment, stipends, scholarships, etc.
  5. Knox College will provide free housing during campus breaks for all students at risk of deportation. The free housing policy will be expanded whenever necessary to include students affected by future anti-immigrant policies, such as travel bans.
  6. Knox College will provide the following resources to students:
    1. A set advisor employed specifically for students affected by immigration policies.
    2. Expanded training for counselors in counseling services to account for issues about immigration.
    3. Free legal aid for students affected by immigration policies, especially in the case of a student’s detainment.
    4. An annual Know Your Rights workshop, led by lawyers, hosted and paid for by the college
  7. Knox College will inform its students’ families about the resources available for their dependents, through mail, email, and phone calls.
  8. Knox College will create and maintain a website which dictates the school’s policies regarding the current White House administration’s immigration legislation.
  9. Knox College will inform students about their rights under FERPA through a campus-wide email every term. This notice should be made easily accessible both on the Knox College website as well as the My Knox page.
  10. Knox College will promptly communicate through email any changes in school policy or federal policy which may have significant effect on its immigrant and international student body.
  11. The President of the college will make a greater effort to dialogue with the campus community, establishing a transparent and sincere relationship between students and the Knox administration.
  12. Knox College will continue to support legislation aimed at protecting undocumented and international students at Knox.

Read the demands in full at knoxsanctuary.weebly.com

Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  demonstration international workers' day M.E.Ch.A. may day may day protest sanctuary campus

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