The Santa Clara
May 10, 2018
“Oh my god, what are they protesting now?” was one of the many complaints that Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP) and Multicultural Center members heard as we tabled at the Mock Border Wall last week.
The fence was an eyesore and an inconvenience—something that jarred our senses. We have all become accustomed to the perfectly pruned “reality” that is Santa Clara’s idyllic campus. I love to bask under the palm trees as much as the next person, but this bubble surrounds us and makes it hard to challenge each other with new thoughts and ideas. The palm trees are a barrier to creating discourse that isn’t pretty or easy—conversations that challenge us.
This is what motivates SCCAP to organize provocative actions in an attempt to jump-start discourse that reaches the larger student body. A student body who is, hopefully,
willing to admit that the roses and palm trees are a constructed paradise, not representative of the real world.
Our longest and most noticeable provocation? The Mock Border Wall. SCCAP, led by Kimy Grandi and Meredith Anderson, spent hours making posters and collaborating with groups on campus to fill the wall with personal testimonials and facts about immigration.
The wall is accompanied by a week’s worth of events educating the Santa Clara community about the perils, complexities and loneliness involved in the immigration process.
The goal is to humanize the issue—to create empathy for the experiences of many of our classmates, professors and on-campus workers—as well as larger immigrant communities in the United States.
Over the past week, the wall blew over two times, the second time trapping one of my SCCAP peers underneath it. Her instinct was to run towards the fence when she saw it precariously wobbling.
One woman cannot prevent a 200 feet long, six feet high fence from toppling over when the wind has set its mind to the task—that sure didn’t stop her from trying. This obstinate determination with a dash of naivety is what allows those working towards social justice on this campus to persist even if it involves being crushed beneath wire and posters.
The instability of the wall is eerily metaphoric of its current role on campus.
In many ways, the wall isn’t as necessary as it used to be. If you opened any major news publication within the last week, I can guarantee you saw at least one headline concerning migrants, solidifying immigration as one of the pivotal social justice issues of our time.
Yet, this gives the wall a new purpose, evolving our activism with the changing political sphere.
Immigration Week is less now about awareness and more about empathy, an understanding of why people choose to immigrate and the many broken aspects of the immigration system. Then we must challenge Santa Clara students to understand how all of our political views play into the national conversation.
The Mock Border Wall forces students to engage with social justice issues by walking around the wall—whether they want to or not—for five days. When we are provocative, pushing ever-so-slightly on our Santa Clara bubbles, SCCAP receives criticism and administrative push back—as we should.
One comment that stuck with me was,“I don’t pay 65k a year to walk around a f***ing fence.”
Hearing this, I shook my head and mumbled something about entitlement and privilege—my own classic leftist response. As I let this comment stew, I realized what really bothered me wasn’t the entitlement the student expressed but the idea that we are on this campus to be comfortable.
A good education should not be comfortable.
I came to this university in order to experience something new, to be surrounded by a spectrum of political views and people who have had different life experiences. I crave that my education pushes back on my belief systems. I’m here to have arguments with peers, friends, professors and parents alike.
Educating ourselves isn’t solely about getting a job—our 65k tuition should be for an education that challenges us. We should be willing to get (metaphorically) crushed by a fence to defend our beliefs while being just as willing to think critically about them. Only then will we be able to take full advantage of our education and the academic bubble that envelopes us.
Marisa Rudolph is a senior political science and environmental science double major.