Facing a crowd of admiring students, staff and faculty, Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García hosted a reception commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month. However, the mood was more somber than celebratory.
García’s opening remarks addressed Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico as she sent her thoughts to those who were affected.
The reception was one of many events taking place around campus to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and raise awareness for undocumented students.
The uneven standing of these students was a key topic throughout the event.
The event featured keynote speaker Cesar Vargas, an undocumented lawyer from New York City.
Students of the Diversity Resilience Education Access Movement Co-Operation, which was established as a community to bring awareness to first-generation college students about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, attended and received advice from Vargas on how to battle discrimination.
“Be disruptive. Keep going to school. Keep studying. Keep working and keep contributing to the country we call home,” Vargas said.
García lauded CSUF for being No. 1 in California and No. 2 in the nation to graduate the most Latino students.
“Cal State Fullerton is proud to be from the right side of history,” García said.
The reception included a theatrical reading of “Cruz and Raymunda” written by Victoria Flores and a music performance by Isaiah Acevedo.
“Cruz and Raymunda,” performed by four students, shed a light on the hidden struggles of deportation, including violence committed by Immigration Customs Enforcement and the separation of parents and children due to immigration laws.
There was not a dry eye at the reception when Acevedo performed “Love Makes the World Go Round” by Jennifer Lopez with footage of DACA protests playing behind him.
“For those of us who have become citizens and can vote, please take the time to write to your officials and vote,” said Associate Vice President of Student Engagement Tonantzin Oseguera.
Not all were in support of García. Students for Quality Education member Liz Sanchez was outside the event passing out flyers highlighting the appearance of provocative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos on campus.
The flyer also included an excerpt of an email sent by García in support of Dreamers on campus in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, attempting to illustrate the discrepancy between García’s actions and statements.
“We’re trying to show the contradiction of Mildred García. She says that she’s about being inclusive and that she wants to protect vulnerable communities, but then she’s saying we have to cater to ideas of hate because of freedom of speech and the Constitution,” Sanchez said.
SQE continues to voice their concerns over Yiannopoulos’ scheduled Oct. 31 appearance at CSUF.
“We want to inform all people coming to this event that we need to come together and challenge the administration to protect students, faculty and staff,” Sanchez said.