At a galvanizing and moving chapter meeting on February 15, the leader of Graduate Students from All Nations, Ancilleno Lewis, urged all of us present to ask our departments and programs to make statements in strong support of students from other nations. Lewis and others reported disturbing details about hate-related activity happening on campus. Some Muslim students are staying home out of fear of being mistreated in the streets. We heard reports of women in hijabs being verbally abused; in one case at Lane Library in town, a community member tried to pull off a woman’s hijab.
Amber Franklin, AAUP chapter treasurer and a member of the police community council, explained that it is possible to call for police presence when verbal abuse is happening; police do not make arrests in such situations, but they will stand by. She also noted that Oxford police have issued a statement explaining that they do not enforce federal immigration laws, only state and local laws; however, they will serve federal warrants and assist federal agencies when requested. We realize that some members of our community, given the history of policing in this country, may not feel comfortable calling the police for protection.
During a discussion of creating a more welcoming atmosphere for international or undocumented students and faculty, issues beyond safety came up. It was suggested that all of us consider diversity of background, access, and religion when planning social and other events for students and faculty. If your event can’t be arrived or departed from without a car, or if your event serves alcohol, you may unintentionally be excluding or discouraging someone from joining you.
It’s clear that the times are calling on all of us to work harder to protect our students and faculty and to create an atmosphere in which all of us can learn and thrive. Here is our chapter’s statement (also posted on our “About” page):
In the wake of recent presidential orders concerning immigration and transgender rights, and as part of its advocacy for the educational mission of the university, Miami AAUP Advocacy Chapter affirms its unequivocal support for the right of all members of the Miami community to have space and time to pursue learning in safety and with full freedom of movement.
We condemn acts and words that denigrate and/or discriminate against members of our community on the basis of national origin, religion, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
We encourage all departments, programs, and individuals at Miami to explore the many ways that diversity strengthens our community. We call on all parts of the community, including Miami leadership, to commit to doing everything in their power to affirm and protect the human and civil rights of members of the Miami community—such as Middle Eastern, Latinx, Jewish, and transgender students—who may currently be experiencing increased vulnerability.