Change still needed after DACA petition signed, students say


(Photo: Jessie Gronke/The Simpsonian)

by Britteny Johnson, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College President Jay Simmons’ signing of a petition in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program over break has been met with positive responses but also questions of what comes next.

Before the new year, Simmons signed a petition to support students who are registered with the DACA program or are undocumented immigrants.

In an email to faculty, staff, and students on Dec. 22, Simmons explains why he signed the petition with the overall message being that Simpson will be supporting all students in their educational endeavors.

“Our objective is to maintain our students’ rights to pursue their educational goals as members of the Simpson College Community,” Simmons wrote.

Simmons sources Simpson’s mission statement as one reason he signed the petition: “As a United Methodist-related college with a mission that values social justice and global citizenship, we remain committed to fostering an inclusive campus community.”

Cecilia Martinez, a sophomore political science major, said that she is glad to hear that Simpson is openly supporting students.

“It’s more of a confirmation of support,” Martinez said. “This petition is mostly just so that people know that they (Simpson) are serious about this. It’s not just something that they are just saying.”

Walter Lain, assistant dean of multicultural and international affairs, said he thinks that Simmons signing this petition is great for students but that it’s only the beginning of further supporting these students.

“I am not speaking for the college, but me personally, I think that one of the biggest challenges for all students is the cost of education and making that cost affordable,” Lain said. “We judge students based on their college readiness and their ability to be good students, then we separate those students by their ability to pay. We shouldn’t confuse those students. We need to try to eliminate as many of those barriers as possible.”

Lain’s office works with Simpson’s multicultural and international students, and he hopes to make all the students he works with feel comfortable and included at Simpson.

“I would want to do everything to make those students feel that they are welcome here in terms of being on campus and being invited and being included,” Lain said. “All students should not be afraid because they come from another country that they might somehow be questioned or segregated. I want to assure those students that we will make sure that they wouldn’t have to worry about those kinds of issues.”

Another step that Lain thinks would be beneficial for campus is if students took opportunities to get involved with the International Student Organization, to get to know these students and partake in potential trips like the one ISO took over winter break to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

During the trip ISO brought bags full of clothes and toys that they collected before break to the people of Juarez. Lain said that it gave himself and the students in ISO the opportunity to see how appreciative and thankful the people of Juarez were for their donations and for their concern.

“I think that more Simpson students should have the opportunity to go to Juarez and see some of the poverty and progress and how wonderful the people are,” Lain said. “Also, to know that when they see our students here on campus they can understand more about where they are from other than what we hear in the media or whatever is portrayed about them. It all doesn’t seem to be good in the portrayals, but in our visit we saw that there is lots of good. “

Simmons said the college does not keep a list of students’ documentation status.