Border Wall Controversy

You likely did not miss the Mock Border Wall raised by Santa Clara students that spanned the lawn between Kenna and Benson several weeks ago. Its prominence proved effective, as ideas of immigration reform and racism were brought into the spotlight on campus. Hundreds of students showed their support for the marginalized. However, as with any polarizing demonstration on campus, many students went to Yik Yak to voice their displeasure.

The racism apparent in several of the posts was shocking to many. And the voices reached further than many could have imagined: USA Today covered the controversy by citing our campus Yik Yak feed, bringing Santa Clara University to national attention yet again.

The wall was covered with informative and moving displays about the struggles that immigrants to the United States face on a daily basis, as well as posters providing information about immigration policy. When I went to view the display, one piece stood out to me in particular. On the chain link fence hung a large map of the world. On the board, students, faculty and staff, and community members were invited to place pins in the locations of their birth, as well as those of their parents and grandparents. I myself took the opportunity to place a pin in California for myself, a pin in the Azore Islands for my Portuguese family, and a pin in London for my paternal grandmother. The result? A colorful display of pins on every continent.

Reflecting on the diversity of origins in the SCU community, I realized something: there is no “us” and there is no “them”; no “insiders” and “outsiders.” America is a country of immigrants, and that means that we are an eclectic group of people with ranging ethnic and cultural origins. To my classmates and fellow students: we, as a Santa Clara community, are better than this.

Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit who founded gang­ rehabilitation center Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, once summarized the importance of remembering that we belong to each other: “kinship­­ is not serving the other, but being one with the other.” And while I know that it’s unlikely that the people who post racist and otherwise offensive comments on Yik Yak will ever decide to read this article, I just want to let all of these students know how sad I feel for them. Seeing the world in terms of lines of division prevents one from seeing the beautiful and wonderful axes of intersection that can occur when we start thinking of the whole human race as an “us.”