By Rebecca Waskevich
Bellarmine University President Dr. Susan Donovan joined more than 600 college and university presidents and signed a “Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students.”
Donovan’s action was inspired by Bellarmine’s vision. “We are called to advocate for the education and welfare of those who cannot speak for themselves,” Donovan said.
The university community engaged in a dialogue to discuss the dismantling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program on Sept. 11.
The discussion began with a prayer from Dr. Melanie Prejean Sullivan, director of campus ministry. She shared her story and asked the community to think about how their families came to America.
“We are the same. They are our brothers and sisters, and we are called to justice,” Sullivan said, concluding the prayer with a moment of silence.
The dialogue was an opportunity for attendees to gain a better understanding of the DACA program and the direct impact the dismantling of DACA would have on Louisville and on the Bellarmine community. Attendees were reminded that the dismantling of DACA affects everyone, not just those who are protected by the program.
“I think it is a tremendous loss,” interdisciplinary professor Mary Nebelsick said. “We are like a tapestry of life, and if one thread or person is pulled then the entire tapestry will unravel.”
There were times in the dialogue where the entire group was broken into smaller groups to discuss specific topics. After a few minutes of discussion, the room came back together as a whole, allowing students, professors, and faculty to share their thoughts.
Ryan Ward said, “It’s sad they have to fight for this.” Ward comes from a parish where 65 percent of its members are undocumented.
Attendees also discussed what the Bellarmine community can do to help those who are directly protected by DACA. Dr. Fedja Buric, professor of history, led this part of the conversation.
Buric shared his personal story and how his academic studies are leading him to be cautious of the current administration.
“I’m unsure of what I can do as a staff member and how to help,” said Jennie Wellman, director of the writing center.
Student Nick Rudisill said: “I wanted to learn more about DACA, and to see everyone’s opinions. Congress now has the option to go through and make this a law. In general, there needs to be a lot of reform with immigration because there are a lot of issues.”
“I think we all have a lot to lose. I don’t think it’s just families; I think as a community we have a lot to lose,” said Natasha Begin, director of service and leadership. “I think we need to take it personally because it affects our humanity. I would encourage people to get comfortable with the uncomfortable; our fellow community members deserve that.”