By: Azl Saeed ~Staff Writer~
Throughout this week, a Mock Border is on display on campus by Bellarmine Chapel courtesy of Voices of Solidarity (VOS), a club on campus. VOS co-president Alexandra Fath, explained that the club itself formed after travelling to the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., for the first time 1998.
There, students joined in the protest in remembrance of the six Jesuit priests killed at the University of Central America in El Salvador, in addition to others who have been killed due to U.S. training of Latin American forces.
Since then, the club has been a part of the protest annually; however, this year was different. The protest was moved to Nogale, Arizona at the U.S.-Mexican border. The focus of this protest was on immigration and militarization of the border.
After seven VOS club members travelled to the U.S.-Mexican border over fall break, they felt called to share what they had experienced over the powerful weekend.
“It was important for us to keep this tradition alive and create the border [on campus] because we believe it is what roots our club to our Jesuit mission and how our club was founded. We wanted to take what we learned from this experience and make the mock border a visual representation of what we took away from that weekend and illustrate the injustices of the current immigration system,” said Fath.
While the topic of immigration is already on the mind of many students in the midst of the upcoming presidential election, VOS hopes to shed light on immigration as a local issue, and it stated that immigration should be part of conversations all the time, not just during the election cycle.
Fath said that she was further inspired to bring the wall display to Xavier after witnessing other Jesuit schools doing something similar last year.
She stated that while those schools received a mix of responses, the one commonality was that they all generated discussion and awareness for the topic.
Along with her fellow co-president Rayanne Pancoast and treasurer Michael McGrath, Fath said that their ultimate goal is to foster discussions and create an awareness on campus.
To kick-off these discussions, VOS held an opening rally on Monday. The rally consisted of statements from students representing various clubs and organizations on campus. The statements acknowledged the hardships of immigrants and the fact that borders aim to exclude groups of people.
Attendees of the rally were encouraged to instead live out Xavier’s motto of “all for one and one for all” by being united as one, rather than isolating one another. Fath agreed that the intention of the display harmonizes with the school’s values.
“We believe it goes in hand in hand with the values of being a Jesuit University to create change against injustices with education and discernment,” Fath said.
Voices of Solidarity invites all those interest in learning more about the topic to stop and take in the display throughout the remainder of the week. To close out the gesture, the club will be holding a closing vigil and commitment outside of the mock wall at 4:30 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 28 which is open to anyone who wishes to take part.