Name: Alyssa Clark
Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
Major: Political Science
Q: So, you marched in the TCU All Are Welcome Here peaceful protest on Thursday, February 2nd. What inspired you to take part in it?
A: “My decision to march on Thursday wasn’t so much a response as to why I should march, but really why there wasn’t any good reason I shouldn’t. As an educated young woman coming off of an internship with the Department of Defense this past fall, I completely understand the complicated situation in the Middle East and the implications of this travel ban. As a result, I felt and continue to feel the injustice imposed upon so many innocents in need of America’s help and saw no other choice than to lend my voice to the cause.”
Q: Are you, yourself, a student of color?
A: “Yes– I am Mexican American/Chicana.”
Q: Was the idea behind this protest very personal to you? If yes, how so?
A: “Yes, because not only do I have several friends whose families are immigrants, but my great grandmother herself was an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico.”
Q: Why was the march significant to you and the TCU community?
A: “Not only is the act of marching and displaying solidarity for fellow classmates affected by the travel ban significant, but I feel that our ability to start a conversation and remind others that we are accepting of all backgrounds is also important. We all strived to express our love for all religions and nationalities.”
Q: Can you explain what the protest stood for and why we need it as if you were explaining it to someone who wanted to learn more?
A: “As the name of the march was “All Are Welcome,” we gathered to reiterate the acceptance and value for each and every student and their respective background at TCU. While it is all too easy to feel isolated and unappreciated on campus, this small act was our attempt to show that we all stand in solidarity with every group of persons affected by the travel ban or any other forms of discrimination.”
Q: TCU’s student body historically leans toward the conservative side. Can you explain the protest as if you were explaining it to someone of a more conservative background?
A: “I would say that acceptance and diversity are non-partisan values. Loving your neighbor and recognizing that immigrants of all nationalities and religions built this country and continue to make it great is also non-partisan. If marching for 30 minutes one day makes someone feel loved and at home in our community–for me–it is all too worth it.”
Q: It was reported that between 300 and 400 people turned up to participate in the march. How does that number make you feel when you take into account the entire population number of TCU?
A: “While certainly we would have loved even more people to have participated, we must not forget that many who wanted to participate were also in class at the time, did not feel comfortable enough to march in front of others, or merely felt that they could make an impact in a different way. Either way, 300-400 is more than none– and that’s all that matters.”
Q: Is there anything that you’d like to say to those who disagreed with the protest?
A: “”All Are Welcome” means ALL–including those that disagreed with the march. The important thing about freedom of speech and assembly is that it goes both ways.”
Q: TCU’s student body is around 70% Caucasian. Do you hope that this ratio will change in the future?
A: “I certainly hope so!”
Q: How can TCU as an institution as well as TCU’s students make our university a more welcoming place for students of color?
A: “Not only is it important to support causes and events centered on various cultures, histories, and religions at TCU, but it is also important to have students of color equally represented throughout the student population. It is all too easy for a person who has never come into contact with a culture other than their own to be weary and/or fearful of someone different from themselves. With transforming TCU into a rich “stew” of people from all backgrounds, we would all benefit from unprecedented growth and enlightenment.”
Q: Over 60 religions are represented here at TCU. Do you feel that the ratio of religious representation needs to change at all?
A: “I feel that it is not so much the representation, but the acceptance of religion that needs to change. Society today has been plagued with misunderstanding and misconception of what various religions stand for, most particularly Islam and distinguishing the religion from violent jihadist extremism. If we can break these stigmas and educate ourselves, we can improve and grow together.”
Q: How would TCU benefit from a more all-around diverse student body?
A: “I could answer this with a stereotypical response the goes something like “because it makes us more understanding, compassionate and accepting when we are exposed to people different from us.” But what I really want the reader to do is just close their eyes for a moment and imagine a world where every shape and size of human from every corner of the world coexists and lives in harmony. Imagine how unexplainably great that is– and then imagine that at TCU.”
Q: Where do you hope TCU will be ten years from now?
A: “The way I just asked the reader to imagine it with their eyes closed.”
Q: Are there any last things you’d like to say?
A: “”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Happy Black History Month! x”