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Tampa Bay SDS steps up pressure against USF administration

By Chase Gordon |
October 19, 2018
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Tampa, FL - Tampa Bay Students for Democratic Society (SDS) held an immigration panel at the University of South Florida October 15, as part of their ongoing campaign for USF administration to not comply with federal immigration efforts on campus. Their demands for university non-compliance with DHS, the FBI and ICE come amid national student struggle against university complicity with anti-immigrant measures.

The panel featured Tampa SDS member William Blake, resident USF Professor Dr. Adriana Novoa, and immigration activist and graduate student Girsea Martinez. In attendance there were various USF staff and students, along with on-campus groups such as the Students for Justice in Palestine. The event furthered the efforts of SDS by bringing attention to the university’s partnership with federal agents, as well as to dispel myths about U.S. immigration.

Martinez kicked off the panel by speaking of her own life as the child of Mexican immigrants. She spoke of the fear of being an immigrant in Texas in her youth, as well as her experience with her father being deported. Her appeal to emotion and reason spoke volumes to the USF students and staff in attendance.

Dr. Novoa followed up with what she called a historian’s view of immigration to the U.S. Novoa explained the context of immigration from President Lyndon Johnson’s policy during the 1960s up to Central American violence in the 1980s. “Make no mistake: the ‘problem’ with immigration is racism.” Her matter-of-fact statements and her own experience with anti-immigration sentiments in Argentina following the dissolution of the military coup were met with resounding applause from the audience.

William Blake ended the panel with remarks about student involvement in political struggles, stating, “The student movement always parallels the broader movement.” Blake added, “When this occurs, college administrators immediately become aware of the fact that they are not dealing with an isolated protest from a group that is rarely active, but rather dealing with an organized student group capable of rapidly mobilizing other supporters, that is a part of a larger, country-wide student and mass movement fighting for the same or similar demands.”

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