By Demarcus Davis
March 8th, 2017— Members of the Fontbonne community gathered outside of the Jack C. Taylor Library to stand in solidarity with immigrant and non-immigrant international students.
This event was sponsored by the Peace and Justice Committee because they saw a need for expressed support for marginalized, immigrant, and nonimmigrant international community members.
“A protest is not an appropriate way to show support but a rally is,” says Assistant Director of International Advising Jessica Hylton.
Hands Across Fontbonne was to show support for Fontbonne’s immigrant and nonimmigrant international students, staff, and faculty. A few members of the community shared their story to educate the community on their struggle of coming to the U.S and the struggles of their parents. The title of the program was inspired by the movement in the 1980s,“Hands Across America,” which was a benefit to raise awareness and money for hungry and homeless Americans.
Alumni, Karina Arango, spoke about her family first coming to the U.S. Afterwards she encouraged the audience to not only to empathize, but also act. “It is not enough to sit here and listen, it is not enough to wear a safety pin. You have a platform as a student, as a professor, as a director— to educate, to talk about these things but to also act.”
International students immensely impacts Fontbonne’s community.“Many Americans have this misconception that international students somehow are taking things away from their American-counterpart [sic] such as seats in the classroom” says Director of International Affairs Rebecca Bahan.
Bahan argued that international students culture enriches the Fontbonne community and is financially beneficial to domestic students.“While international students do qualify for scholarship, they do not receive federal government money. International students help supplement the costs for domestic students.” Bahan referenced several resources for understanding the impact of international students in the U.S.
- For every seven international students enrolled at a U.S. campus, three U.S. jobs are created. Those three U.S. job are supported for every International student that is enrolled on a U.S campus.
- In the 2015-2016 academic school year, international students have contributed approximately $33 billion to the U.S economy.
- In Missouri, int’l students have contributed approximately $700 million to the Missouri economy.
Hylton offers, “We are a home away from home for many of our students. My students are an extension on my family because Fontbonne is a small place.”
DeMarcus Davis is the Social Media Editor and a contributor to Fontbonne University’s Griffin Roar.