To the Editor:
“What can I do to help?” “How can I make a difference?” Those are two questions I get asked by many Yale students interested in becoming involved in the community and in city affairs.
In late summer, I participated in a FOCUS New Haven forum on immigration to discuss the Elm City Resident Card. At the event, I was approached by several dedicated Yale students who wanted to help organize an effort on campus to encourage the Yale community to sign up for the ID and educate other students on New Haven’s particular issues. As a result, this week is New Haven Solidarity Week (NHSW).
New Haven Solidarity Week is a campus-wide effort to increase solidarity with New Haven and encourage the Yale community member to register for a card. During select hours, registration for a card will be available to all Yale undergraduate students who live on campus as well as graduate students, faculty and staff who live in New Haven. Student groups will also be holding various forums on campus around immigration.
While planning the events, Kica Matos, community service administrator of New Haven, and I were invited to a meeting in Dwight Hall’s common room to talk about immigration and the New Haven resident cards. We were told that the meeting was of “stakeholders” that is, of students representing groups that had agreed to participate in NHSW.
We were pleasantly surprised when we walked into a room of over 50 people representing 50 different organizations. Seeing these students and groups come together over an issue that matters to city government and affects so many residents, listening to a diversity of voices express their sincere concern for all the city’s residents, and their desire to understand and be driven to help were gratifying.
New Haven Solidarity Week is an example of how the University and city can work together. Ultimately, making a difference doesn’t just mean planning a week of solidarity, but it is an important first step. You can show your support by getting an ID.
You can talk to people about the issues and help engage others. Kica and I applaud the Yale organizers of New Haven Solidarity Week for all their dedicated work and thank them for standing up for an issue they believe in strong enough to make a difference.
Byrne is the New Haven Democracy School coordinator.