“I think before, social justice was, for me, trendy. Whenever I thought about it, I thought I was a visionary,” says Nedda Sarshar, a Canadian citizen with Iranian refugee parents who may be unable to see her graduate this May. “Ever since this election happened, social justice is more about survival.”
Nedda led Syracuse University students on Thursday in a protest and sit-in against #NotMyPresident Donald Trump’s immigration reform, which bars refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Students crowded Crouse Hinds Hall and later the Life Sciences building, demanding resistance and a sanctuary campus.
“My existence is controversial. The people I love, their existence is political,” says Nedda.
For Nedda, one of two Senior Class Marshals for the Class of 2017, graduation day is a representation of everything her parents have worked for. Her education is a tribute to the life that her parents left behind in Iran, but it certainly did not come without sacrifice. While they instilled in her an appreciation for “the West,” they also left behind a home and trraditions in order to assimilate to a new and foreign culture. They worked hard so that she could know both Farsi and English, the second of which is now her major.
Since last Friday, however, they had to face the reality that they may not see the fruition of their efforts, their daughter Nedda crossing the Syracuse stage, because they are stuck on the wrong side of the Canadian border.
“When I talk to a Trump supporter, I just want to know, why are you so angry? Why are you so angry at me, at people like me?” Many speakers at the sit-in voiced outrage at the recent Daily Orange articles sympathetic to Trump supporters. However, the overall consensus of the rally was simply to relay the message that Muslims and refugees alike are welcome on this campus.
Chancellor Syverud’s recent email also conveys a somewhat hopeful message. However, Syracuse University still has yet to declare itself a sanctuary campus, and the University still complies with federal laws with respect to immigration.
While Syracuse has much room for improvement, community support is pivotal at a time when many feel so alone, especially those whose families are many miles away.