Social Justice Week brings about a conversation about immigration at SCSU

NEW HAVEN--Much of the public backlash since Donald Trump was elected president last week has been centered on the fear of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. However, fear is being overcome by understanding on Connecticut college campus. In particular, Southern Connecticut State University students came together on Friday for Social Justice Week.

First year SCSU President Joe Bertolino has built his career on a platform of social justice. And students, given the climate in America now, appreciate that.

"We try to celebrate diversity as much as we can," said Bahar Musa, the secretary of the school's Muslim Student Association. "Having a president that really enforces that, as well, was really, it was really nice for our campus."

"Every member of this community needs to be treated with dignity, with respect, with kindness, with compassion and with civility," said Bertolino.

And, that's exactly how Social Justice Week played out on the Southern campus this week.

"Social justice week has really been incredible because it's giving communities of color and under represented communities a voice and a platform in which they can speak on," said Shannon Harrell, a leader of the university's Black Student Union.

Busa says that "we're not that different. We may appear a little different, just by the way like I'm dressed. But, at the end of the day, we are all the same and we all have the same struggles."

Yale is among the many colleges and universities calling for their campuses to be designated sanctuary campus, to protect undocumented students and their families. But, that approach would raise more questions for a public school, like Southern.

"What are the lines between what is legal, what is not legal, the conversations with the federal government," queried Bertolino.

While students support the idea of a Southern being a sanctuary campus, they already largely feel safe.

"You're not gonna have a good education if you don't feel comfortable in the space that you are in," said Musa.

Bertolino says a campus built on social justice is in one where he's not asking for students to agree with one another. He just wants them to participate in the conversation.