The Students Taking On Poverty (STOP) campaign, a nation-wide organization which was founded at Harvard in the fall of 2004, hosted the discussion, which was meant to suggest ways in which Harvard could help illegal immigrants.
“In September, at our first solution session, we had about 80 people.” said STOP Co-Director Chaz M. Beasley ’08. “Tonight was just a small turnout. It is the last week of school,” he added. “It was only logical that we hold this meeting after the protest.”
Despite the low attendance, members of STOP were hopeful that the session would be productive.
“We want to leave this meeting with ideas of what we can do about immigration, especially on a local level,” Beasley said.
Students at the meeting discussed general issues of United States immigration policy, focusing on issues such as undocumented workers, border security, and economic concerns. They also discussed the ways in which educational institutions deal with undocumented students.
STOP’s organizers, who proposed the idea of book stipends for students to the Undergraduate Council earlier this semester, said they would take the ideas expressed by students at the solution session and find ways of making them work at Harvard.
“We need to evaluate our position, evaluate the power we have, and think about we can do,” said Jamila R. Martin ’07. “Especially since we are at Harvard.”
Gabriela Pena ’08 praised Harvard’s treatment of undocumented students.
“I know a lot of undocumented students,” she said. “Harvard is actually really helpful with financial aid and stuff.”
Students were particularly vocal on the issue of border control.
“There are issues of safety,” Yonit D. Lavin ’09 said. “It is a very scary thing that anyone can just come into our country.”
But some students said the government was playing on people’s fear of terrorism on U.S. soil.
“I think that as it is, the United States is a country with a very large number of ways to protect itself,” said Pena. “But the militarization of the border has not helped.”
“The security issue is overrated,” Martin added.