Last Friday, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore College students organized a protest against the inclusion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Not-for Profit and Public Service Career Fair held at Bryn Mawr.
The idea for the protest arose when Bryn Mawr student Iliana Dominguez-Franco, who had reorganized her work schedule to attend the fair, found out that Border Control would be in attendance. She reached out to fellow students Thursday night and sent an email to the Bryn Mawr College Career and Professional Development team (CPD) expressing her outrage.
Other students were also upset about the participation of the United States Marine Corps and the New Castle County Police Department in the fair.
“Those are usually organizations that profit off of bodies of color and [cause] violence towards bodies of color,” Dominguez-Franco said.
The two groups decided to come together and organize a silent protest. Dominguez-Franco also reached out to Swarthmore students to join the protest as the fair was co-sponsored by the college. Other co-sponsors included Cabrini College, Haverford College, Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College, University of Pennsylvania, and Ursinus College.
“Our goal was to not just to send a message to our institutions that this is completely inappropriate, but also to the agencies that we are not okay with them being in a place that we would want to call home. Hateful institutions should not be welcome,” Dominguez-Franco said.
According to Bryn Mawr’s CPD, organizers simply invited all government agencies.
“Invitations went to over 600 Not-for-Profit and Public Service representatives (which includes all government agencies). Approximately 50 organizations registered to attend,” CPD Director Dayna Levy wrote in an email to The Daily Gazette.
Before the fair began, Bryn Mawr administrators heard about the potential for a protest and informed the representatives of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The representatives chose to leave before the fair began, but left promotional materials on what would have been their table during the fair. Protesters threw these away.
During the fair, protesters stood holding signs at the table that had been assigned to Border Control. Others stood in across from the Marines table and in front of the New Castle County Police Department table. The students generally remained silent unless approached by a fair-attendee who asked what they were doing.
Dominguez-Franco and other Bryn Mawr students met with the Bryn Mawr College Career and Professional Development team on Wednesday to discuss the fair and their concerns about creating safe spaces on campus.
“[We want to] advise them to be a little bit more aware of who they bring into this space […] and how that is going to affect students,” Dominguez-Franco said.
Levy said that CPD respects students’ right to voice their opinion and will hold office hours after spring break to further discuss student concerns.
Featured image: The protesters stand at the table that Customs representatives would have used. Photo courtesy of Iliana Dominguez-Franco.