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The Carletonian

Latinx students rally in response to hate incidents

<st Friday, seven students organized a gathering in Sayles in response to two anti-Latinx hate speech incidents that occurred at a party the previous weekend. At the party, a male student chanted “build that wall” to a group of women of color, and another male student expressed to the same group that he was only interested in white women, according to Yazari Gutierrez ’19, who was part of the group. In both cases, all bystanders remained silent.

Organizers of the gathering stressed that the event was not merely a reaction to these two incidents, but to an ongoing problem of racist and anti-immigrant sentiments on individual and institutional levels at Carleton.

“I don’t feel like I belong here,” said Gutierrez, one of the organizers of the gathering. Gutierrez added that the recurrence of racist and anti-immigrant remarks on campus, often without consequences from administrators, motivated her to hold the gathering.

Also on Friday, eyewitnesses to the hate speech incidents responded to the perpetrators and to the greater Carleton community in the CLAP.
At Friday’s gathering, students of color gave speeches from Upper Sayles. In addition, several members of the Collective for Change on the Hill, the organizers of the recent anti-racism demonstrations at St. Olaf College, attended the gathering. Multiple Carleton faculty members were also present.

“The reason why we planned it in the middle of Sayles was because we wanted to be heard,” said Gutierrez. “We want reactions from that. We want something that’s implemented, and we want more actions to be taken than ‘something wrong was said’ and nothing after.”

“Sometimes, we get stuck on thinking about this as a big incident, and obviously, it’s important to think about that, but a lot of the time, what the students are frustrated by is not the incident, but the silence afterwards,” said Anita Chikkatur, chair of the Educational Studies program. “Part of having the rally and part of having it in this very visible space is asking people who are maybe not directly affected to pay attention.”

Reflecting on the hate speech incidents, Ana Yanes Martinez ’19, who is openly undocumented but was not an eyewitness to the hate speech, was disappointed, but not at all surprised. “I wasn’t shocked. I was like, ‘Okay, it happened. It finally happened’ because I was sort of expecting it,” she said.

On an institutional level, Gutierrez hopes to see changes made to the OIIL office. “The OIIL office is under-resourced,” she said. “There’s currently three staff members, and all international students get put there and all intercultural domestic students are there.”
Martinez echoed this sentiment, noting that OIIL is overworked in its oversight of all international students, domestic students of color and undocumented students.

“While I don’t think Carleton has done a terrible job in addressing the problems that undocumented students face, I believe Carleton has a lot of room for improvement, especially when I see what other liberal arts institutions are doing to support their undocumented students,” Martinez said. She would like to see the college hire a staff member whose main focus is undocumented students on campus. She also thinks the college could do more to train faculty on undocumented student issues so that undocumented students do not have to bear the burden of explaining the ramifications of their citizenship status to all of their professors.

Chikkatur said that in talking to the members of CAUSE, the immigration reform advocacy organization formerly known as ADMIRE, students expressed frustration at the lack of transparency in the administration.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty from what I’ve heard from the students. They feel like they have to be the ones to do all this research and do all this educating, and they feel like it shouldn’t be their job to do that,” Chikkatur said.

In response to concerns about the OIIL office being underfunded, Dean Carolyn Livingston said that “any additional staffing will be considered during the College’s annual budget process,” and added that “OIIL has not requested additional staffing but has received budget enhancements.”

Next week, the college is interviewing three candidates for a new Assistant Dean position. If hired, the Assistant Dean would supervise OIIL and the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) and would provide additional support to the Dean of Students (DOS) Office. According to the DOS website, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston presently oversees OIIL and the GSC, and Associate Dean Cathy Carlson also oversees OIIL.

Martinez, a CAUSE board member, said that she is unsure how much more CAUSE  can do to change campus climate toward undocumented students. “We did all this Undocumented Awareness Week organizing, really to just educate people, and then, this happened two weeks later,” she said. “In a way, it seems like, ‘what was the point of our organizing if people are still doing these types of things?’”

In terms of campus culture, Gutierrez hopes to see myths dispelled about Latinx students. “There’s definitely this idea that, as a whole, Latinx students are undocumented, and the idea that ‘immigrants’ equal ‘Mexicans,’ and that ‘Latinx’ equals ‘Mexicans’ and ‘undocumented,’ and that if you’re an immigrant, you’re undocumented,” Gutierrez said.

Speaking from personal experience, Martinez said that this is the second year in a row in which she has been asked questions about Cinco de Mayo from fellow Carleton students. Martinez is a Salvadoran immigrant, and Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday.

“As a student, I’ve thought about what it would be like to belong here at Carleton, because at this point I don’t feel like I belong,” Gutierrez said.
“I think, to me, students who organized the rally are asking a broader question about, ‘What kind of community do we want to be?’” Chikkatur said.

“Do we want to be the kind of community that recognizes that, under the current political administration, we have a particular group of students who are under extraordinary amounts of stress? Are we going to be the kind of community that’ll think about ‘How do we care for those students in particular?’”

When asked about student concerns, Dean Livingston said, “I’m really disheartened if any of our students feel unsupported.  We always seek ways to ensure students feel and are supported … There is always more that we can do as a community and we need help in identifying thoughtful ways to do so.”

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