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Advocacy for the Common Good class facilitates political activism at Saint Mary’s

| Friday, March 2, 2018

Students in the Advocacy for the Common Good class have been preparing all semester for a march to advocate for the passage of a clean Dream act.

In the past, the students in the class have worked in smaller groups on different issues of political advocacy. Their campaigns have featured issues such as gun control and immigration, sophomore Sophie McDevitt said, but this year’s group decided to do something different.

“This is the first year where the entire class has been working on the same issue,” she said.

On Friday afternoon, the Saint Mary’s students involved in the march will meet in front of Le Mans Hall, McDevitt said, and march to Senator Joe Donnelly’s office. Students from Notre Dame and Holy Cross will also participate in the march, leaving from locations on their respective campuses.

“The goal is to put pressure on Congress to … continue DACA and keep it open to people,” she said.

Professors, local media and multicultural groups from the surrounding community have been invited to participate in the march, sophomore Guadalupe Gonzalez said.

McDevitt said the group hopes to demonstrate their commitment to this issue.

“We want to put a physical face on this — to really show him that we’re serious,” she said.

Throughout the semester, McDevitt said, the class has used a variety of methods to advocate on behalf of DACA.

“We’ve had a petition and a couple of call-ins … to show them how serious [we are],” she said.

In addition, Gonzalez said a group of students from the class has previously met with Donnelly.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently stated their support of the passage of a solution to the uncertainty surrounding DACA. The tri-campus community reflects this goal as a group of Catholic institutions, McDevitt said.

Due to the complexity of the issue, students in the class had to begin by evaluating their knowledge of the policy.

“The first step we [took] as a class was to come together in workshops to understand the issue of DACA. … We all came from different backgrounds of knowledge on the issue,” Gonzalez said.

By sharing their knowledge, McDevitt said, class members helped other Saint Mary’s students to see the impact they can have on people that could both benefit or suffer as a result of the loss of DACA.

“From [then], it’s been a movement to educate others and educate ourselves — to push for more awareness on our campuses,” Gonzalez said.

The students in the class have also used social media to share their campaign with the local community.

Beyond Friday’s march, students plan to continue using social media to advocate for this cause, Gonzalez said, as well as host more vigils.

“We’ve raised a lot of vigils,” she said. “A lot of Catholic Social Teachings say that we should [strive] for social justice, and this is a social justice issue.”

Vigils have helped make this discussion larger than politics, Gonzalez said, as the support of the USCCB has drawn out the religious aspect of the issue. This recent publicity has drawn attention to the subject on all three Catholic campuses.

“There’s definitely been some pushback from [the campuses], but I think a lot of people have opened up to supporting [DACA],” Gonzalez said.

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