Love is our resistance


Courtesy of NEIU

Northeastern is the most diverse university campus in the Midwest and 22nd most diverse nationally, according to the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education diversity rankings.

Covadonga Solares, Writer

On Nov. 15, four bathroom stalls in BBH were spray painted with racially charged graffiti promoting the segregation of students by their ethnicity. This left many of the witnesses in disbelief.

The result of the presidential election on Nov. 8 left groups of minorities with an uneasy feeling.  President-elect Donald Trump had centered his campaign around, a constant reminder of his immigration policies that included terms such as the most feared deportation.

It surprised me because I wouldn’t have expected anything like this to happen at Northeastern, a university known for its incredibly diverse community and tolerance as its ranking as the most diverse university in the Midwest shows (according to data released by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking). As one of the international students that arrived to Chicago three months ago, all alone with only the company of a packed suitcase, one of my deepest fears was not being able to get along with the people that surrounded me. I didn’t know how mistaken I was. Since the first moment I stepped in to NEIU – a place that used to scare me because it meant moving more than 4,000 miles away from home –  I felt welcomed by everybody that I encountered on campus. All the university’s staff were willing to help me out and make my new environment feel like a home.

I know that the turnout of the polls opened up an unknown future for many minorities in the U.S., especially after the rise of hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center compiled 867 different cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the 10 days after the election all across the country. For example, the racist and pro-Trump graffitis found in the bathroom stalls at the Maple Grove Senior High School in Minnesota.

“No matter what happens, the election results won’t change the University’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion,” said Interim President Richard Helldobler, in the email he sent to the student body.

NEIU has a strong commitment with and respect for democracy, but also for the rights of women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ and undocumented immigrants.

I’m not the only one that believes that NEIU is a welcoming place for all. Francisco Rivera, a business major of Mexican descent, said, “I think that whoever wrote the graffiti is entitled to their own opinion and wanted to express it, but they just went about it the wrong way. Personally it doesn’t really influence my day and I try not to let it affect me because the environment here is very welcoming towards all.”

Latinos are one of the ethnicities that are affected by the discrimination that is growing among society. Muslims are another minority group subject to heavy discrimination.

“In high school I felt that I used to be judged by my head scarf and experienced racism,” said Ayesha Khalid, a Pakistani student at NEIU that came to the U.S. in 2009. “Still, the university is great and I’ve never experienced nothing like racism here, I’ve always felt very welcomed at Northeastern no matter what region, culture or religion I belong to.”

To me, NEIU is a synonym for diversity, inclusion, respect and unity. Dawt Chin, a 20 year old Burmese student also explains, “Since I’m living in Chicago, a very diverse city, and in an incredibly diverse school like NEIU, I’ve never gone through any discrimination during all the time I’ve been here, even though I do believe that racism still exists in the U.S.”

Our university is the perfect example of how you can put together many different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities and make them work together to build something great. It’s based on mutual respect and understanding.

We shouldn’t feel intimidated by signs of racism or discrimination.We must stand united to maintain our basic human rights, something NEIU has always done. NEIU teaches us meaningful values that help us become a better version of ourselves and confront situations like the turmoil the U.S. is facing.