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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Silhouettes vandalized across campus

Published: October 2, 2014
Section: News, Top Stories

In honor of Immigration Awareness Week, silhouettes were placed across campus to signify the struggles undocumented immigrants face trying to secure a chance at higher education. However, after the weekend, only two of the silhouettes were left standing in one piece. The rest were vandalized, some destroyed beyond the point of recognition, by unknown members of the Brandeis community.

Yasmin Yousof ’15, co-leader of the Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative (BIEI) along with Margaret Much-Hichos ’15, stated, “The sudden backlash and the destruction of the silhouettes was unanticipated. We don’t believe this is the true candor of Brandeisians, and we believe in Brandeis’ mantra of social justice.”

At the sight of the vandalized silhouettes, Much-Hichos revealed, “When the shadow people were destroyed a part of me felt really hurt.”

The silhouettes were part of a larger initiative designed to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue concerning immigration and higher education. In the past, BIEI has worked with administration to ensure Brandeis is, as Yousof phrases it, “undocumented-friendly,” meaning admissions would not reject prospective students solely on the basis of their citizenship status.

However, this year, the club sought to focus more of its attention on fostering student dialogue. Designed to engage the Brandeis community, the silhouettes featured quotes regarding issues of identity, race and immigration from conversations with students.

“While we are aware that some of the quotes were, to say the least, conspicuous and maybe even provoking to some, the end goal was to post all over campus real conversations from real students about real issues,” Yousof explained.

Much-Hichos elaborated, stating, “These shadow people represent those who are impacted with being or knowing someone undocumented. These quotes were all said by real people. We wanted the students to understand the real thoughts that come through people’s heads and the real issues they deal with.”

Despite the silhouettes being torn down, BIEI is continuing to offer events to bring attention to these issues. Yousof stressed the implications this incident has on campus, stating, “Our community must be willing to have conversations about topics which often are overlooked, and can be, for some, new territory. Immigration, immigration reform and the lives of immigrants needs to be part of our daily conversations.”

BIEI will be placing the rest of the silhouettes back around campus, as Yousof explained, “in the hopes that those who defamed the original ones, and really anyone else, will be willing to have a conversation about BIEI, our goals, and what we hope to accomplish both from our university and Immigration Awareness Week.”

For more information regarding Immigration Awareness Week, please see the article “Immigration awareness panel discusses acceptance” in this issue of The Brandeis Hoot.