Students react to mock wall

Emyle Watkins

Features Contributor

In follow up to last week’s piece “First-ever Stand in Solidarity week” The Griffin asked several students for their opinions on the wall.

The rain may have hit campus this week, but it didn’t put a damper on Stand in Solidarity week programming, including the erection of a mock wall. While originally intended to stand in the quad the whole week, the mock wall found its home divided as half sat on Old Main’s second floor and the other half found itself viewed by passersby in the Bouwhuis Library. The wall has brought a fair amount of intended dialogue; some students shared excitement, and others have remained critical of the reasoning behind its existence.

“I think they’re trying too hard. I don’t think there is going to be wall in a traditional sense,” said freshman Chris Adams.

Adams continued to say that he believes, despite the effort of the clubs who helped organize the wall, that the wall’s intentions of being a catalyst for dialogue on solidarity did not initially reflect as such with the student body.

“Of course it came off political,” Adams added.

The wall, which stands with messages like “I stand in solidarity with [Trans Folks]” and “I stand for justice for all,” is meant to promote discussion on how people can better stand in solidarity with marginalized groups. Adams acknowledged that while this message was understood, he feels that a different, more effective method could have been used to visualize the issue.

The tunnels offer some of the answers, Adams explained, to the other ways clubs could spread the message of solidarity. Displays such as the pro-life board, he cited, are “much better” ways to gain attention. Rather than “demonizing” the wall, Adams stated that he believed solidarity could have been better expressed through telling the stories of migrants and immigrants.

Other students, such as Carter Keegan, had little criticism of the wall, and shared his appreciation of the wall’s message.

“I feel that it goes to show the connectedness of Canisius,” Keegan said, “also just to be like in support of immigrants or people of color or anyone, and that we don’t believe in walls, we believe with… solidarity and open arms.”

Other students, such as sophomore Ryan Ballow, didn’t see the wall with such enthusiasm.

“I perceived the mock fence as a form of protest toward President Trump’s newly proposed policies.  I appreciate the use of free speech and symbolism to convey the message,” Ballow opined.

Ballow, who was aware of the week, felt very firmly that the wall came off as a image of political protest rather than its intended use as center of discussion on marginalized groups.

“It seemed quite ironic to me that they were using the mock wall to create a sense of security for their beliefs while they protest the proposed wall on the southern border that will provide security for our own country and stop illegal immigration,” Ballow added.

The collective organizers of the wall posted a notice, along side the only two quotes the organizers put up, that read:

“As a nation, we collectively forget that we are bound by a common thread as a country established by immigrants. We often neglect to acknowledge the dignity and contributions of immigrants. This wall symbolizes physical, emotional and spiritual barriers that those who are marginalized face daily. This wall is part of Stand in Solidarity Week. The goal of this week is to humanize the migration issue by sharing stories of immigrants in our community and beyond as it is desperately needed today,” signed by Campus Ministry, Peace Action Canisius, Women/Gender Studies, USA J.U.S.T.I.C.E., and USA Diversity.

Students such as Jay Cooney, drew upon his experiences in the current political atmosphere and related it back to the social justice issues the wall tried to inspire discussion about.

“I think it’s really wonderful that we can have this sense of expression as a community. I mean when you, like the shock of having people vote for this cause and movement, from your own like hometown was just like really bizarre. I guess just seeing that as a small college, like this many people have these expressions is great,” Cooney said.

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