Bilal Akbar ’18, president of Student Government, sent the following message to the campus community on Feb. 1.
I’m writing to inform you about the passage of this year’s first Student Government Resolution. Although resolutions have been passed infrequently in recent years and even more rarely sent out to the entire campus community, Student Government felt the need to do so given the realization of what recent political developments in the country mean for a significant population of our student body. I would also like to personally commend President Byerly for her strong statement this past Sunday; I feel confident that I’m not the only one who felt pride in being a part of this community because of its strong message.
As an elected Student Government, our responsibility is to represent the interests and opinions of all students. We are cognizant of the fact that our student body is as diverse in political opinion and affiliation as it is in every other way, and the resolution does not in any way represent an offense to the political opinions of any of the students we seek to represent. Having said that, I feel compelled to speak on behalf of so many members of our community who feel a sense of vulnerability at this time and face serious uncertainty on a number of fronts. As an International Student, I have had the privilege of growing up in diverse cultures and around people of numerous faiths. Perhaps because of this experience, I’m deeply distressed by the possibility of what recent political developments mean for the human rights, dignity and freedom for so many members of our community.
It might seem like all of this is out of your control. However, if you want to help, I implore you to show that you care about the affected members of our community through small gestures like asking your students or peers how they are feeling, opening your doors to them as they face the possibility of being unable to return home until graduation and, above all, attempting to empathize with them in what is a challenging and fearful time. You can also sign this Statement of Values as a Community that several faculty members distributed two weeks ago. Several students have already signed this statement, and I encourage you to lend your name to it: http://lafayettevalues.org
As someone who has tremendous faith in the values of tolerance and understanding that our community espouses, I hope that you will stand with our international and other minority students affected during this time. To our international, undocumented and minority students, know that Student Government stands solidly with you in this uncertain time.
Bilal Akbar ’18,
President, Lafayette Student Government