This letter was drafted and sent to local media on March 16, 2017. Thus far it has not been printed, so we post it here…

 

To Our Community Regarding Our Current Political Administration;

Recognizing that the election of Donald Trump for President has increased anxiety, division, and tension on our campus and in our community, we reached out to several of our campus justice organizations to find out what their concerns are in this new political era. Their concerns illuminate some of what needs to be done in order to create a better Penn State and a better global community during a moment in history when fear and division are so pronounced. This is what we heard;

 

From Rose-Michelle Romain, President of Social Justice Coalition, “Our most pressing concern is the impact it may have on communities of less privilege and of color, both foreign and domestic, and relationships between the U.S. and the rest of the world, the continuation of systematic racism that has oppressed minorities for centuries, the equality, safety, and representation of all the people of America, and that the current issue of discrimination against minority peoples will not only continue but worsen.”

 

From Nathan Larkin, Executive Director of Fossil Free PSU, “Our most pressing concern is the dismantling of laws and regulations fighting climate change and ensuring clean air and clean water. The acceleration of climate change and pollution of vital resources will have its most egregious impacts on the poor, communities of color, and immigrant communities — those who are already most vulnerable to other Trump Administration policies.”

 

From Kelli Herr, President of the Student Society for Indigenous Knowledge, “Our primary concern is the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, treaty violations, threats to indigenous sovereignty, environmental injustice, social injustice, and systematic economic suffocation.”

From Kathryn Van Develde, President of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, “For our organization, the most pressing concern under this administration is the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the general degradation of access to quality healthcare. As a club we act to further the rights of everyone to access affordable and high quality health care. The current administration wants to destroy the progress made in the last eight years both by changing the ACA for the worse and also by defunding PP. Planned Parenthood provides low cost healthcare for men and women and often operate in communities where there is no other choice for healthcare. The defunding of Planned Parenthood along with detrimental changes to health care laws will leave too many Americans without access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

 

From Aya Bseiso, President of Students for Justice in Palestine, “As a Palestinian solidarity group grounded in the principles and values of international law, human rights, and justice, we are deeply concerned with the actions and statements taken by the Trump administration and the U.S. stance on the Palestine-Israeli conflict. We are concerned with continued U.S. support of the building of illegal settlement on Palestinian land by Israel, which has uprooted and displaced thousands of Palestinians in the process. The continued denial of Palestinian human rights, as Palestinians both Muslim and Christian are denied the right to move freely and enter their religious spaces. And finally, we are concerned with the administration’s support of human rights abuses and atrocities by the state of Israel as it continues to give over $10 billion dollars of taxpayer money in military aid.”

 

From Jamie Jimenez, President of EcoLIONS, “Our most pressing concern under this new political administration is environmental justice and climate action”

 

From Emmy Demchak, President of Knitivsm, “Our most pressing concern is for women’s rights and human rights. We are not a particularly political organization, but our values are largely humanitarian and feminist. In the past we have raised money for Syrian refugees, and donated hand made goods to mothers and children in Rwanda, victims of sexual assault in Chicago, and various charities for children. Our club does not actively seek to change policy or advocate political views, but our donations largely center around support for populations affected by feminist or humanitarian issues. We want people to know that others care for them and we want to foster healing and community in whatever ways we can.”

 

From Cassie McMillan & Doug Kulchar, Co-Presidents for Coalition of Graduate Employees, “Our most pressing concern is for attacks on public education.

 

From Sean Penfield, President of Atheist/Agnostic Association, “Our biggest concern is for the vast disregard for laws and precedent set forth by other administrations. As a secular organization, we believe that religion and government should be separate from one another, and it seems that hard-line religious beliefs and religious bigotry are making their way into policy that is being pushed out by this administration. We stand for the rights of all minorities in this country, and hate to see people discriminated against simply because of what god they choose to believe in. This administration has the honor of representing the American people on the global stage, and right now I am ashamed of that image.”

 

From Michelle Wagner, Project Cahir Corp Member, “Our most pressing concern involves mitigating poverty with a sense of civic duty and commitment to change the landscape of poverty on our campus and local communities.”

 

From Samantha Mathews, Vice President for Students United Against Sweatshops, “PSU still benefitting from their contract with Nike which is in violation with PSU’s code of conduct. Violations such as these affect the United States as a whole whose economy benefits from fast fashion. With Donald Trump as president capitalism will thrive. With this will come the exploitation of many female workers in third world countries specifically south east Asia. This exploitation is unacceptable.”

 

From Jesse Rende, President of Ally House, “Our biggest concern overall are LGBTQA+ rights. Our concerns include, but are not limited to, the continuation of gay conversion therapy, transgender bathroom laws, discrimination in the workplace, lack of required public education in health classrooms pertaining to LGBTQA+ identities, and greater access to health care coverage for transgender/ gender non-conforming individuals.”

 

These are just some of the issues that justice organizations are focusing on during this administration. As a student organization focused on peace, justice, and faith, 3rd Way Collective is excited to continue to partner with these groups as the work for justice. We encourage our community to support these and the many others focusing on various concerns in order to make Penn State and our world a better place for us all. 3rd Way Collective commits to working on our campus and in this community to continue to build bridges with these groups as we strive to create a better future.

 

Signed and drafted by,

3rd Way Collective officers, Owen Woodruff, Brandon Sullivan, Mirali Kalra; and campus minister Ben Wideman