Last Wednesday evening, February 1st, DSU faculty, staff, and students held a candlelight vigil in response to President Trump’s executive ban on immigration from several different countries. The vigil was held outside of the Karl E. Mundt library and then moved into the Science Center due to inclement weather. It was initially planned by Prof. Michael Lynch, International Club President Nelofar Sultan, and Dr. Deana Hueners-Nelson after Sultan had expressed some concerns to Prof. Lynch. The vigil was held to show unity with all of our international community members affected by the ban, whether immediately or from fear of how they would be viewed after it was enacted. This vigil, having around 120 attendees, not only proved that a matter like this will not divide us at DSU, but was also a reminder of a key goal here at our university. This goal is to keep DSU feeling like home, and its students, faculty, and staff like a family.
At the vigil, the heavy weight of fear and worry could practically be seen lifting off of the shoulders of many concerned members of the foreign community in attendance as they realized how much support there was to be given. Sultan expressed this feeling in her speech during the vigil, saying “we no more feel alone or unwelcomed because we know we are loved and have people like you around us who are willing to stand and to fight for us.” DSU lit up much brighter than the many candles aglow that night. It was both a reminder and a reference for the future that DSU will always be a home to all who come here no matter their race, religion, or identity. After the fact, Sultan told The Trojan Times, “[the vigil] let me know that in the midst of all of this confusion, I have a family here at DSU who will support me and other international students whose host countries are thousands of miles away.”
The Midwest is known for its hospitality and friendly communities. Yet, it still seems far-fetched to say that a small campus in a sleepy town in Nowhere, USA, population: not many embraces, believes in, and promotes diversity; but here we are. This combination of traits is what creates our tight-knit but accepting community. Not all colleges have this sense of family, or even a good sense of community in general. Whatever may be said about DSU: good, bad, or in between, this sense of family, comfort, and home is not something that should be overlooked like it often seems to be.
This reminder of what DSU stands for was not just a comfort and relief to our foreign community but to many others here as well. In times like this, it is good to know that the place many of us call home for most of the year, if not all of the year is full of people who will accept, defend, and embrace us for who we are as well as to know that the students, faculty, and staff around us are able to experience this same sense of comfort.