Friday, February 3, 2017

It's a BIG village at DU!

      Last Tuesday, about 500 members of the DU community crowded into the Driscoll Ballroom for a (relatively quickly put-together) response to President Trump's "Refugee and Muslim Majority Country Ban". The event was launched into existence on Saturday afternoon by Prof. Andrea Stanton of the Religious Studies department, but quickly gained an incredible head of steam. Publicity didn't really start spreading until Sunday afternoon -- while the details were still in the works. But, by Tuesday afternoon, we had a slate of speakers from the University Counsel, a Political Scientist, an International Studies scholar, folks from Human Resources and the Office of Internationalization (as well the University Chaplain).        
       When we filed into the ballroom, there were probably chairs for about 150 (we had only seen about "60 attending" and "90 interested" on the Facebook event). But, as the clock edged towards noon (and reflecting that classes had just let out), more and more people streamed in. Chairs began being set up . . . and there were too few to seat everyone. I don't think anyone complained.         We started a bit late, since we were still setting up chairs, and, after an un-scheduled appearance (and address) by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp*, we turned to the speakers who did a wonderful job of laying out both the nature of the Executive Order, as well as how it was currently, and might be, affecting the DU campus. And, then, we opened the floor to questions and comments.
         Only a few of the questions were "procedural" (i.e., "What happens when  . . .?"). What was gratifying were the numbers of questions about "What can we do to help our affected population? How do we get involved? The answers:  "This group is doing something; contact me." 'We're arranging for immigration attorneys to come on campus regularly." What was humbling were the number of Muslim students (both graduate and undergraduate) who came forward to tell of their stories, and their great appreciation for the event and the level of support they felt. It was a remarkable event; both that afternoon, and in comments on Facebook, many said they had never been more proud of DU.

           I have been in two "official" meetings since Tuesday afternoon, one completely devoted to DU's response, and the other having a large portion of the discussion about the EO and DU. The meetings have involved people from all over campus -- from Health and Counseling to Engineering, Athletics & Recreation to "No Lost Generation" (a student group devoted to refugee work). There is a HUGE village of folks here in the 80208 zip code who are doing all they can to mitigate the impact of the Executive Order, and to provide hope to those affected. 
         Several offices have worked to compile an ever-updating and changing set of resources and events. Resources can be found here, and specific events can be found here.  Both pages will be updated as things change.
         There is a BIG village at DU. Yet, in my (almost) ten years here, I've never seen it so LARGE! That says a lot about who/what we are as a community. And it speaks volumes about what we can do.  


* The Chancellor's official statement in response to the Executive Order can be found here.

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