Opinion: SA Leadership Should Resist Trump
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the office of Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the repeal of Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), a federal government created by the Barack Obama Administration which allowed undocumented immigrant children to remain in the country with protection from deportation. Applicants had to have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday and would be permitted to live and work in the country, having only to renew their eligibility every two years.
Largely, America has responded with a collective roar of opposition against Sessions and President Donald Trump. The repeal, or “wind-down” as the administration would prefer to call it, represents another example in a continuing line of xenophobic policies passed by the currently Republican controlled government.
“Trump is literally erasing everything that has helped people who need it most,” tweeted Student Association President Jerlisa Fontaine. “If you are/were a Trump supporter, you are to blame for this!”
Some believe that the Student Association and its members should, at least publicly, remain wholly impartial instead of taking sides with either the proverbial Right or Left. Fontaine’s decision to condemn the repeal of DACA is controversial, especially as the president of a public group elected to represent the entirety of the student body, regardless of political affiliation. However, the current administration’s policies and rhetoric has forced them to forfeit any right to impartiality or respect.
While it is true that the Student Association exists as a representative for all on campus, any silence regarding this issue would have been equal to condoning the actions taken by Sessions and Trump. In a community as diverse as UAlbany, the student body’s elected representatives cannot afford to sit silent while a great number of students on campus are marginalized by the White House. More accurately, no American can remain silent in these times that continuously divide the nation and its people.
America is sick and tired of this administration’s antics and persistently hateful rhetoric. According to a recent Gallup Poll, Trump’s approval rating has quickly plummeted to 36 percent, the lowest of any president in history at this point in their term. His government has created an atmosphere of hate and fear as it works to systematically steal away the rights of the many, in order to give them solely to the privileged few. The masses are exhausted of the Trump presidency after only eight months, but instead of slowing their crusade for change, the people have continuously ramped up their ideological war against the White House.
Because of Fontaine’s high ranking affiliation with the Student Association, speaking out against the DACA repeal is a welcome sight for a politically apathetic American public that is constantly being criticized for being disinterested in the important issues of the day. UAlbany expects its students to demonstrate the qualities of a good citizen, to respect our fellow humans regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. America is a nation of nations and UAlbany is a microcosm of that philosophy, a philosophy that Trump and his colleagues in the Republican controlled government so painfully disregard. If UAlbany expects all of us to embrace the American ideal that all men truly are created equal, then it should certainly applaud a student government leader for calling out an administration that fails to live up to that standard.
If the Student Association indeed exists to represent the student populace, then Fontaine has done so to a tee. UAlbany, along with rest of the country, felt the collective national shock last November when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, and that wound has
continued to fester ever since. When the head of the Student Association speaks out against the exclusionary policies of the president, she speaks for us all. We don’t support hate speech, Islamophobia, or the demonization of immigrants. If more of us stood up like Fontaine has, we can ensure that a vicious demagogue like Trump never again leads the Free World.
Democracy can only be sustained when the people are willing to fight for it, and despite Trump’s best efforts, America is still a democracy. It is the responsibility of every American to defend the ideals and principles that this country has claimed to uphold since its founding. Now is not the time for impartiality or passive adherence to the proclamations of a government that does not represent our true interests. A leader must speak for the people regardless of expected objectivity. A leader must act for what they believe in, and that’s exactly what Jerlisa Fontaine did for us in UAlbany and for all those who have been hurt by the continuously un-American policies of an out-of-touch administration. Keep fighting and make your voice heard!