“You Don’t Speak for Me”

There’s a lot that I really love about teaching–the constant opportunity to challenge my own thinking about critical issues, the incentive to read and stay abreast of developments in social policy, the relationships with students who later become colleagues.

But my favorite part?

When students totally blow me away with their commitment to social change, creativity in pursuit of justice, and all-around awesomeness.

In all fairness, this post is not about my students. But I feel like I can claim them just a little bit, because I worked with them in my capacity as an advocate, advising them on their project and connecting them to policymakers and allies.

And because, if I’m really, really lucky, they might end up in one of my classes one day.

I’m thrilled that this group received the national Influencing State Policy award. They completely deserve it. They absolutely did influence state policy, defusing the anti-immigrant argument that, somehow, attacking immigrant kids helps other college students. Their advocacy, including this video and the petition drive that garnered support from college students around the state, shored up Senate supporters of Kansas’ current instate tuition policy and injected a new theme into the media coverage of the repeal debate, both critical to the ultimate defeat of the attempted repeal.

What I love most, though, is that these students not only made an impact on state policy (in a truly beautiful way). They also demonstrated, for other students and would-be activists, that such influence is within reach and that it can be really fun, too.

I always cry at the end of the video, when this powerful collection of students says, essentially, “Hey, when you’re hating on hard-working immigrant students, you don’t speak for me.”

I am so glad that they found their voice.

And I can’t wait to hear what they say next.

2 responses to ““You Don’t Speak for Me”

  1. This is a great example of social work advocacy- I”m very impressed by your students (and by your mentoring!)

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