A march for fundamental rights

Written by: Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

On the afternoon of March 16, Western students from an immigration and politics course gathered in union to support and advocate for immigrant rights, as well as a number of interrelated and prevalent issues across the United States, including human rights, gun violence, the war on Ukraine and climate justice. As a result, these students marched for various causes, not primarily limited to immigrant rights. 

The event was arranged by Professor of Political Science, Eliot Dickinson.

According to Dickinson, the idea of the peace march came to light in two political science courses: “Causes of Peace” and “Immigration Politics and Policy.” The former course, “Cause of Peace,” centers around the study of nonviolent protests, while the latter focuses on discussion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the illegal exploitation of immigrant child labor.

Dickinson said, “The two topics kind of went together, and I asked the students if they wanted to end the term with some kind of an immigrant peace march.”

Although the march was designated for the enrolled students of the course, all students — including students outside of the political science community — were encouraged to attend. 

With handmade signs in hand, the participants of the march welcomed the sunny weather — void of the chilliness of previous days. 

The group met at the Werner University Center, where they continued their march through Monmouth Avenue and up towards Main Street. 

While most advocated for immigrant rights, a few participants advocated for climate change. One sign read, “Immigrants Make America Great,” while another read, “Climate Justice Now.”

“The purpose was to get out of the classroom and express ourselves,” said Dickinson. “We wanted to say that it’s time for a green revolution, time to stop burning fossil fuels, and time to stand up for human rights.”

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, 2022 ranked as the sixth warmest year on record. Likewise, statistical analyses warn of the potential likelihood that 2023 will rank among the top tenth warmest years.

In response to why it’s important to advocate for these issues, Dickinson said, “There’s so much gun violence in our society, so much economic anxiety, so much bad news about global heating, and so much war and so many refugees that at some point you just feel like expressing yourself.” 

Ultimately, the march turned out to be a progressive end to the semester for the two political science courses, as well as a positive step in the right direction concerning fighting for policies on immigration.

Dickinson added, “We realized it wasn’t going to solve all the world’s problems or bring peace overnight, but it sure does feel good to get out and demonstrate.”

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu