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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Frontline: Act on frozen America

At the start of fall quarter, Washington state was shocked by an active shooter who killed five at the Cascade Mall in Burlington. As always, this issue was surrounded by questions of race, motive, mental health and citizenship status. In the aftermath of the attack, there was collective hope that America could improve in preventing motives for tragedies like these, and begin to move forward toward being a better country overall. 

At the end of fall quarter, we feel stuck in a rut — in fact, many feel we have stepped backward as a country. For millions of Americans, the results of the presidential election was causal of this regression, especially after a massive increase in hate crimes occurred in the days following President-elect Trump’s win. Those most affected by this election — minorities, women, immigrants, impoverished Americans and everyone in between — expressed a great deal of fear about the lack of progress our country was shamelessly putting on display. 

Much of this seems to be about politics, but it really comes down to remembering we are all humans, and we must adopt the change we wish to see in our country on both an individual and campus level.

Recently, Western students have been taking steps toward seeing these changes on campus through organized walkouts and protests.

Tangible kindness: WesternCares Campaign

On Monday, Nov. 28, a student at Ohio State University attacked and injured 11 other students and was fatally shot by police.

Unfortunately, in the opinion section of The Western Front, we bookend the quarter with stories of mass violence — this one, as well as the first issue covering the Cascade Mall shooting in September.

Many people attribute mass violence solely to mental illness, which isn’t always a correct assumption, and creates a negative social stigma blanketing everyone with a mental illness as violent. Instead, taking steps to be kind to every person one comes in contact with is a preventative action to instances of violence.

WesternCares sent an email on Monday, Nov. 28, calling for students to lend their voices to the 2016 WesternCares Campaign, which “traditionally involved random acts of kindness and promotion of support resources and events on campus.”

The email urges students to take part in random acts of kindness on campus, whether large or small, to be an ally to other students and promote an inclusive campus. Students can participate by posting about these acts of kindness, using the hashtag #WesternCares.

WesternCares is a concrete way to promote kindness on an individual level. Bettering our country goes so much further than just thinking and feeling, but rather acting and doing.

Western Washington University: a sanctuary school

In lieu of hate crimes against different cultural groups following the election, many cities such as Seattle have declared themselves sanctuary cities for those feeling oppressed or disenfranchised. Many Vikings are urging other students and university President Sabah Randhawa to make Western an ally for undocumented students by declaring itself a sanctuary school.

On Monday, Nov. 28, Randhawa responded to this sentiment by sending an email to the student body announcing a commitment, alongside 300 other higher education leaders, to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Randhawa also listed the values Western holds in regard to undocumented students, that Western makes no admittance decisions based on documentation status, shares no documents revealing the documentation status of students and doesn’t enforce federal immigration law.

“In taking this action university and college presidents are urging business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented immigrant students,” Randhawa said in the email. 

Issues concerning undocumented students have been brought up in several instances since the election, and Randhawa closed his email with a final thought about the holistic student body at Western.

“I am proud to be the president of this great university and I am honored to represent every student and employee in standing up for what is right.”

A Hopeful Manifesto

It’s important to remember we all have something in common: we are human. Whether we’re a student or community member, documented or undocumented, affected by the results of the election or not, each of us, as human beings, thinks and feels.

At the end of the day it’s crucial to remember one thing: what we have in common is much more important than our differences. In a crucial time in American history, it’s important to act on these thoughts and feelings. This is no longer about politics, but about human compassion and care for another person. Every action should have purpose and that purpose should be unity.

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