By Camila Ceja
Students chanted, “Aqui estamos y no nos vamos!,” in front of Sproul Hall at around 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 12. I could hear the chants getting increasingly louder as I walked toward them. I hoped to see a huge crowd of students; but, as I approached the scene, there were only a dozen people holding DACA must stay, Trump must go!” posters.
Earlier that day, a paper had been passed around my Latino Politics class. It was a flyer stating in bold: “Tuesday, November 12: WALKOUT, STRIKE, MARCH.” Protests are part of everyday life in Berkeley. I admit looking at the poster and thinking, “Okay, just another protest.”
However, as an Ethnic Studies major, my consciousness fights back and reminds me that protests over history have proven to be the pivotal form of action — student action.
As clearly stated in the flyer, Nov. 12 marked the United States Supreme Court hearing of Donald Trump’s lawyers arguing for Trump’s “exclusive power to end DACA.” According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2019, The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has granted about 700,000 youth the opportunity to come out of the shadows of deportation fears and become members of society: getting a driver’s license, obtaining work permits, and applying to college. Currently, new applications cannot be filed, however, this number accounts for the students that were able to renew their application.
If the supreme court allows for Trump to end DACA, thousands of recipients fall vulnerable to deportation, as their records are in government’s hands. The attack of DACA is a prime example of Trump’s attack on minorities in education.
The protest was organized by BAMN (Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary), which works to organize and promote the power of youth action. As much as the Berkeley brand markets the famous “Free Speech Movement,” where is the student action today? Where are the students when we need to fight for the most underrepresented minorities on campus? Thousands of students’ futures depended on Nov. 12, yet throughout the day less than forty students joined the movement. We often forget the impact of student action over history and the importance of action in today’s attacks on immigrants and minorities throughout the country.
If the crimes against humanity aren’t a good enough reason for student action, BAMN emphasized the immediate need for a change in the Berkeley campus environment. The statistics of UC Berkeley admissions prove it to be one that lacks minority representation. According to UC Berkeley’s office of planning and analysis, the admissions for fall of 2019 accepted less than 12% of Latinx, less than 3% African Americans, and less than 1% Native Americans and Pacific Islanders combined. Furthermore, UC Berkeley’s class of 2023 “welcomed” about 18% of underrepresented minorities to its campus. The low statistics encourage the necessity for the demand for Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action brings forth representation and favors minorities who continue to struggle in obtaining a higher education.
The protest for DACA and Trump’s impeachment on Nov. 12 proved the necessity for an increase in student action. In a campus known for being “liberal” and constituent of “activist students,” where was the action? As the protest continued, we began marching along Bancroft and Telegraph, chanting “Trump must go, DACA must stay!” Though our group was small, the energy to make the cause known was present. If about 30 of us chanted the streets and paused traffic even for just a few minutes, what would happen if a 30 more joined?
You don’t have to be an Ethnic Studies major to care and take part in action against an unjust administration that fails to serve the rights of humanity. You don’t have to be a politician to recognize the extreme lack of representation in UC Berkeley’s campus and faculty. It is up to us youth to take action and be at the forefront of change. With the energetic strength in numbers, we can inspire the rest of the community to work together against the injustices minorities face under a discriminatory administration.