Students Organize Blackout and Phone-A-Thon to Protest DACA Repeal

Ekan Belo-Osagie ’19 and Kristian Menes ’19 participated in an OOTB-organized phone-a-thon, calling their representatives to express their support for the DACA program.

Students and faculty, dressed in all-black, stood on the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall last Friday night to protest against government plans for rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Organized by Out of the Blue (OOTB), the “blackout” sought to raise awareness and unite the school community against President Trump’s proposed repeal, according to the Junah Jang ’20, a board member of OOTB.

“Even though a large majority of people have heard about DACA, they might not know what it stands for, who it affects, and the disadvantages of repealing it … Seeing that huge presence of black shirts and black pants all across the SamPhil stairs, [we all] look like a block of color and a really unified group,” said Jang.

Established by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA grants 800,000 immigrants — who entered the nation illegally before age 16 — permission to live, study, and work in the United States for a two-year period, according to “The New York Times.”

Jang said that recipients of DACA must either have a high school diploma, currently be enrolled in school, or be honorably discharged from the military.

“They’re not violent criminals,” she said. “They’re not people who are mooching off of the system. 90% of them pay their taxes consistently, so to get rid of [DACA] would be to [displace] people who have served in our military [or] spent their entire childhood living in America and benefiting the system.”

Abdu Donka ’18, a board member of OOTB said, “Out of the Blue strongly believes in the enforcement of DACA and it being [an] executive action… We do not support Trump’s repeal because he’s really putting so many people’s [livelihoods] on the line: everything they’ve worked for, kids who are in the middle of college, people who are starting their jobs.”

Susanne Torabi, International Student and Academy Travel Coordinator, recalls her experience of living in the United States as an immigrant.

“Illegal. Of course, you could look at it that way, but what does it do to a person who is stamped like that? I remember what it did to me when I was looked as on paper [as a] foreign alien until I became a permanent resident and then, three years ago,…a dual citizen of Germany and the U.S,” she said.

Torabi continued, “What I worry most about [is that] we have no idea about what number of our students, faculty, staff are affected by [the end of DACA] and how they deal with it. But it’s my obligation as a faculty member to make sure that the students feel safe… Because it’s a life in limbo and a life that is rollercoaster-like right now.”

Thompson Uwanomen ’19 said students should stay informed of events and decisions surrounding DACA.

“Here at Andover awareness is key. Learning about DACA here especially would not only facilitate discourse, [but also ensure] that we aren’t completely oblivious to what’s happening outside of [school] and make it so that we incorporate our beliefs on [DACA] to everyday life here,” Uwanomen said. 

OOTB also hosted a phone-a-thon Wednesday afternoon as a follow-up to the “blackout.” The event held in front of Paresky Commons provided information for students to call Congress representatives and urge support for DACA.

“[With] the phone-a-thon, we want to make sure that the Andover community is…  actually [making an effort], not just saying that we care about something,” said Jang.