LULA BURKE, News Editor—“Our motto: Empower, Educate, Engage.”
Immigrants Without Borders, a new campus organization founded by Co-Presidents Chris Linares ‘22 and Fatimah Elghazawi ‘21, aims to “create awareness and solidarity for immigrant and/or undocumented students, children of immigrants and allies.” The organization became an official campus organization on February 13.
Linares first thought about initiating an immigrant-centered organization last year and noted that despite attempts to foster discussion, there was no concrete organization to which students could bring their complaints or questions.
“There [are] a lot of different components that really address a lot of the different awareness and advocacy issues around immigrants and refugee statuses, for example refugee status week,” He said. “But those events don’t have an organization that they’re tied to, and so we were thinking about [creating] a final network.”
Linares reached out to Elghazawi, and the papers for the Immigrants Without Borders club were processed at the end of last semester. This semester, the club welcomed an executive board of nine students and plans to start meetings in mid-March. The club is directed by faculty advisor Monica Ayala-Martinez, Associate Professor and Director of Latin American & Caribbean Studies.
The club is currently planning a conference for high school students that would assist them with the specificities of applying to college as an immigrant. Linares noted the complexities that some students face in regard to federal financial aid and scholarships.
“The conference is supposed to be a statewide thing where here at Denison, students who identify as marginalized groups, as low income, as first generation, as an immigrant or refugee status student, for them to be able to come to Denison over the summer and learn about the college application process,” he said. “We want to give back to our communities and ensure that students who might not have that opportunity are able to pursue higher education and go into something that they would be comfortable doing for the rest of their lives.”
On a broader level, Linares said he hopes that the new organization is able to create a springboard for campus discussion as well as a resource for Denison students.
“I think that having a willingness to learn is where it really starts. We really just want to see people come support us–We want to make sure that the campus raises its own awareness and does outside research. We think we can be that tool and that bridge to help get to the knowledge you want to achieve and the education that you want to get from learning about immigrants and refugees.”