Student groups and participants unaffiliated with the University encouraged political engagement among students at Politicon Wednesday at Sneaky Park.
University of La Verne’s College Democrats and College Republicans co-hosted the bipartisan event, while the Office of Civic and Community Engagement provided students information on ballot propositions.
Tala Achi, president of the College Democrats and sophomore political science major, and Christina Garcia, senior political science major, provided voter registration forms to encourage student political efficacy.
“Our purpose is to raise political awareness. There are controversial views and there are pros and cons to each (candidate).”
Lesly Fuentes-Soriano, sophomore business administration major, informed attendees about women’s issues, particularly on the wage gap using statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“If we don’t change what’s going on, it’ll take about 117 years to see the wage gap close up,” Fuentes-Soriano said.
The Latino Student Forum discussed children fleeing Central American countries and the policies the United States and Mexico have regarding these refugees.
“The main reason we want to bring awareness is because the U.S. is paying Mexico to do the dirty work of deporting them,” said Gabriella Herrera, director of programming for the Latino Student Forum.
The refugee children flee Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, going through Mexico to get to the United States. MS-13 and Barrio 18, two rival gangs in El Salvador, recruit children and force them to become gang members.
“If they don’t join, they’ll be killed,” said Herrera, sophomore and psychology major.
Kathleen Jacobson, writer for the Huffington Post, presented a speech about her experience working with Syrian refugees living in the United States.
After the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, Jacobson heard presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments on Muslims immigrating into the United States.
“It really disturbed me as an American,” Jacobson said. “I started reflecting on what America is doing and what type of American I am.”
She attended a press conference at the Claremont Islamic Center, where she learned that refugee families needed assistance adjusting to life in the United States.
“I decided to volunteer,” Jacobson said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I just went up to some officials at the mosque and I said, ‘How can I help?’”
Jacobson was invited to teach English to the Syrian refugees. Jacobson said that Syrian refugees bring very little money, are put in a hotel upon arriving in the U.S., and speak little to no English. For a year, she helped with a Syrian refugee family adjust to life in the United States.
Parker G. Emerson, ambassador of ShelterBox, presented a speech about the work his organization does with refugees around the world. The organization has provided shelter to Syrian and Jordanian refugees since 2008.
“We’ve been providing shelter for people leaving Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,” Emerson said. “We’ve provided shelter for some of the people leaving from Turkey, going through Lesbos to get to Europe.”
ShelterBox provides tents, lightweight blankets, pots, and other supplies. The organization has three teams working in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew. ShelterBox teams have worked in Ecuador, Chile, the Philippines and North Korea.
“We don’t care about politics, we don’t care about religion,” Emerson said. “People need shelter, warmth, dignity. That’s all ShelterBox deals with.”
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.