The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Chancellor Michael D. Amiridis, Provost Poser, and Pavilion Director Scheibler must take a stand against Donald Trump’s anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-Black, and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
His rants go against UIC’s core values of freedom, equality, and social justice and the violence he incites endangers its student body.
As an undocumented UIC graduate student, I feel unsafe knowing that Trump along with his followers will be at my university.
I, and other students who are at the receiving end of his maniacal statements, are in direct danger.
We already face systemic violence but we’re increasingly becoming targets of attack by his followers on and off Trump’s campaign trail.
Within the last week, a young black woman was pushed and shoved by Trump supporters who yelled racial slurs at her at a rally in Kentucky. While in Michigan, Trump gave his supporters permission to be violent with protestors, saying that he would defend them in court.
For the people targeted by Trump and his followers, increasing policing at the event isn’t how we’ll be made safe. We’ll be made safe by it being canceled.
It is a student safety and a university standards, not a free speech, issue. When Trump similarly rented a venue on a Georgia campus, the university was put in the position of profiling and evicting its own students.
His campaign demanded a group of Black students in attendance be removed from the event and security obliged. Because he rented it, like he is with the UIC Pavilion, “he had the right to tell folks he didn’t want to be there, that they had to leave,” according to the police chief in that instance.
What will that mean for UIC which is currently designated as a Minority Serving Institution? The undergraduate population is 26.4% Hispanic, 23.1% Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander, 7.9% Black, 35.8% White, 9.3% International. In 2015, it applied specifically for recognition as a Hispanic Serving Institution.
Those designations don’t just bring with them extra federal funds. They bring higher expectations of the university environment its leaders maintain. And being a host for hate is below those expectations.
The UIC Pavilion is where I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelor’s degree as an undocumented first-generation college graduate. It is the same stage where I will receive my Masters this upcoming May. I do not want this to be the same stage where Trump threatens my family, my friends, and my community.
In any other instance if known white supremacists and hate groups with a pattern of violence were found out to be planning to rally on campus, the University would likely (or hopefully) be implementing support and safety plans for students. But in this instance, it’s signing rental agreements.
UIC, Chancellor Amiridis, will you stand by idly while students on campus feel unsafe?
Jorge Mena Robles is an undocumented & queer graduate student at UIC who will receive his masters in Latin American & Latino Studies this Spring