Student Activism at Drake
I am very active in activism at Drake University. I have been a part of many organizations, including interning for American Friends Service Committee and La Fuerza Latina. I was “a volunteer and intern with AFSC’s office in Des Moines, [and] was honored on June 17, 2014, by the White House as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals White House Champion of Change”.
American Friends Service Committee had a campaign for a while that stated that no human being is “illegal.” That’s rooted in the way policy is oriented towards immigration, specifically undocumented immigration, and how some of the words get translated or get put into the public dialogue without people understanding what it means. For us, we are saying that no human being is illegal because you can’t identify a person as a legal or illegal person.
I don’t think you should be pointing at that little segment attached to your name. I shouldn’t be “Hector Salmanca, ‘illegal'”, I should be “Hector Salamanca, a human being.”
Another organization that I am a part of is called La Fuerza Latina. La Casa Cultural, located across from Cowles
Library is now open to myself as well as to other students because of the student organization La Fuerza Latina.
This organization is rooted in history. We just borrowed the name of an older organization. Last fall, we did a petition to have Drake University student senate recognize undocumented students, and those with DACA. Specifically, looking into how Drake University does admission policy with the undocumented students, and how they did the admission policy with me. We want to see that extend to everyone, regardless of connections to the university.
We noticed that there is this void of focus on Latino issues on campus, and based on how race and ethnicity’s structured on campus, it seemed as if its only focus, it should be more prominent. It seems like the university can only handle a conversation between white and black, but not necessarily anything in the middle. We are seeking to change that paradigm, change that focus, and explained the university and challenge the university to focus on the issues of not just one ethnicity, but all the ethnicities. So because of this, we began this organization that has a similar mission statement as the previous organization. Our goal was to bring attention to the rate of retention and improvement on Drake’s campus.
“The purpose of La Fuerza Latina is to provide a space for students in solidarity with the Latino community in Des Moines and Drake to foster dialogue around issues impacting the Latinos and explore opportunities to promote a more inclusive atmosphere at Drake University.”
Policy changes regarding the petition, the reopening of la casa cultural and making it a place where students who identify as Latino or who are members of LFL or who are allies can come and use the house in a manner in which it was intended to be used. We’ve been making progress in having the university recognize and having different other departments recognize the student organization as a solid organization that is pushing to make change.
One of our most recent events is we had, we brought 66 students from De Moines public school system to Drake without direct oversight from a faculty member or from an administrator, and we did all the planning, all the organizing, and all the agenda setting. The only component that we had actual help with was the financing, and that came from the office of community engagement, who, were glad to help us out, and were glad to provide those resources, but they also recognized that we were a pretty structured organization and that we could handle this by ourselves. Also we had an admissions counselor speak at our event as well, and that went great because this was done on our behalf. We did the outreach, we did the organizing, and we had very little input from the administration of Drake University. So we’re pretty proud of that. We are excited that a student organization was able to organize and was able to plan an event and have it down to the T with no mishaps. Specifically a new organization, so we’re very proud of that.
We brought 66 students from De Moines public school system to Drake without direct oversight from a faculty member or from an administrator, and we did all the planning, all the organizing, and all the agenda setting.
So, what I am hoping for is that LFL will continue to grow as an organization that will advocate on behalf of its members and other students interested in attending Drake, but are hesitant because of the way that race is presented at Drake University. Our goal is that, hopefully in the next couple of years, we will have a nicer place of establishment. If we still have this house though, it will be open to all members, and it will be done in a way that someone will be residing in the house, and have an office or something all the time. We will also have a budget,
which will hopefully be on par with some of the older and larger organizations on campus. If Drake is as committed to diversity as it says, then we can make this possible.
We’re building the foundation for this organization to prosper. We are hoping that the subsequent exectutive boards and committees that follow us are able to follow our vision and continue to build the organization from the inside out. We need to continue the one on one dialogues and the one on one interaction that are important to building an organization.
“We’re building the foundation for this organization to prosper”