Student activists demand their voices be heard

Zue Lopez-Diaz / Panther NOW

Joshua Ceballos/Contributing writer

In 2016, student activists demanded nature conservation, political asylum and fought against systemic racism in a variety of protests to make their voices heard by the University and local communities.

Back in March, students argued that concern for life isn’t limited to human life, but also the environment and the species depending on the ecosystem to survive.

Students expressed outrage over the University’s plan to pave over a portion of the Nature Preserve near the soccer stadium to build two athletic practice fields.

Several protesters including students such as Joshua Munoz-Jimenez, then an agroecology major, protested against the plan to build over 2.8 acres of the preserve.

Selene Basile/Panther NOW

Selene Basile/Panther NOW

Promoted by hashtags like #SaveitDontPaveit and “Peace for the Preserve” event on Nov. 4 on the nature preserve’s north border, boasted students who passed out flyers. While the Board of Trustees ultimately voted in favor of the building project, students still put up a fight, even when that fight was against their own university.

“Justice for students and nature drove me. The issue at hand was a microcosm for what happens at the bigger scale in the world with corrupt governments,” said Munoz-Jimenez.

Jimenez suggests that direct action is the best course for students who feel strongly about an issue, as negotiations can often lead to dead ends when situations are time-sensitive.

Possibly the most divisive events of this year was the culmination of the United States presidential election. When the result of the election was announced and the world knew that Donald Trump was to be our next president, certain students at FIU felt that their livelihoods and futures were in danger.

Daniel Leon, junior biology major, felt personally at risk in the wake of Trump’s election.  Leon is an undocumented immigrant who has found sanctuary thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“I’ve been afraid of Trump taking away my right to work legally and drive,” said Leon.

With president-elect Trump’s statements about his future policies on undocumented immigrants, many students protested on the Graham Center Lawns on Nov. 17.

Protesters asked President Rosenberg to make the campus a sanctuary for DACA-protected students. After the demonstrations by students, the office of President Rosenberg sent a letter to all students ensuring them they would be safe from persecution at their home school.

Some students also held a counter protest, holding signs showing their support of Trump. One sign stated, “The silent majority stands with Trump.”

Zue Lopez Diaz/Panther NOW

Zue Lopez Diaz/Panther NOW

This year saw FIU’s Black Student Union organize its “Blackout” event. During this event, students were encouraged to wear black clothing and join together in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Photo courtesy of Nykeema Radway

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught the world that voices can be more powerful than guns and fists, and the students of FIU have and will continue to stick true to his model with their commendable acts of activism and courage.

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