On Feb. 22, Sigma Delta Pi and Founders Pub invited members of the Wittenberg community to come and listen to a panel of students and faculty who shared their perspectives on the broad topic of immigration.
Sigma Delta Pi, the national collegiate Hispanic honor society, held this event for members of the Wittenberg community to have a safe and inviting environment where they can address the various questions and issues surrounding immigration in the United States. The event gave students the opportunity to ask anonymous questions on topics regarding the media’s influence on perception and perspectives, the importance of talking to people from different backgrounds, how to get your voice heard and how to have a constructive conversation with people who have different beliefs than your own.
To ensure that various perspectives were heard, the panel was composed of members from the world language department, the communications department and multiple students. Representatives were communications professors Kelly Dillon and Sheryl Cunningham, German professor David Barry, Spanish professor Victor Garcia and students Reyna Ayala, ‘20, and Emily Potin, ‘20.
The event was well received by the people in attendance. Different perspectives and ideas were being shared and conversations were flowing when, out of nowhere, the audience erupted in laughter and shock because the room was taken over by a loud screeching noise. An emergency exit had, accidentally, been opened. However, the Wittenberg police coming to silence the alarm didn’t ruin the panelist’s positive attitudes or sense of humor.
“The popcorn in the microwave must be finished cooking,” Garcia said, as he was able to regain the attention of the audience.
The topic that seemed to dominate the majority of the conversations had to do with the media and the role it plays in the way immigration is discussed within our society. Countless people felt open enough to share their opinions on the topic, but it was members of the communications department that were able to share their expertise and give the audience a different perspective when looking at information provided by the media.
Dillon stressed how important words and labels truly are. She talked about the effects that they can have on the way people see someone from a different background and what we can do to get a better understanding on the topic. Dillon said that the words we see in headlines today is the language that people are using. Once we are able to understand the language, then we can try and persuade a change because the labels aren’t always true.
“The people you see on the news aren’t the people that are coming to this country,” Potin said. “They are college students, they are people my age.”
In all, Sigma Delta Pi started what is sure to be a continuing conversation on immigration and engaged a crowd of 60 students and faculty in a way that encouraged them to stand up and speak out.