Swarthmore WalkOut: One Step at a Time

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The WalkOut organizers diligently made posters and signs as they sat in Parrish West and prepared for the demonstration. The preparation was calm, with the silent coloring-in of bubble letters and gathering of posters, but at 12:00 pm on the dot, the organizers stepped onto Parrish porch to meet their fellow students, who were gathered together and energized by the message they came to share.

Students display sign that symbolizes student unity on campus. It now hangs in Sharples. Photo courtesy of Chloe Klauss ’19

Swarthmore College’s WalkOut demonstration was a call for administration to officially declare our college a Sanctuary Campus, meaning it would refuse to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement in deporting undocumented students, barring extenuating circumstances. The protest was a response to immigration policies put forth by President-Elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to deport millions of undocumented students and to overturn the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

Wednesday’s demonstration was a call for policy change on Swarthmore’s campus as well as a symbolic message of support for undocumented and minority students across the nation.

Jordan Reyes ‘19 explained that “We [the organizers of the protest] are working to make our discontent with the current policies put forth by the president-elect Donald Trump known to the public, so that way we can do better to protect our communities that are at risk, including Latinx and undocumented students.”

The protest involved chanting, poetry, singing, and speeches by students, calling for immigrant justice not only nationwide, but also within Swarthmore.

Shana Herman ‘19 emphasized this sentiment.

“Due to Swarthmore’s commitment to social justice, we as an institution have the responsibility and moral obligation to show up for the members of our community who are going to be directly impacted by Trump’s hateful and divisive policies,” she said.

Jordan Reyes ’19 leads the crowd in chants. Photo courtesy of Chloe Klauss ’19

The protest was seen by many as an important step towards destigmatizing undocumented immigrants.

“Today at the protest, it’s really about bringing visibility to widespread support on campus for undocumented students and giving undocumented students a platform to share their stories and humanize what being undocumented means on Swarthmore’s campus and America today,” said Taylor Morgan ‘19, one of the protest organizers.

At the conclusion of the event, Reyes told the crowd that the student organizers would deliver the petition to President Valerie Smith. Which insists Swarthmore College become a Sanctuary Campus.

Fellow organizer Abby Saul ‘19 expressed that much work still has to be done following the protest. “We really had an uphill fight before the results of this election even happened, but now it’s really it’s like an up-mountain battle, so it’s really important that we work together to take these actions, and that’s why it’s so great that there’s so much interest in today’s walk-out,” said Saul.

While the road ahead may be an “up-mountain battle” as Saul described, the WalkOut was a first step in the right direction.


Featured image courtesy of James Garcia ’19.

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