Courtesy of MIchael Saldarriga
Following her arrest in front of the White House for civil disobedience, Ezra Stiles Associate Master Alicia Camacho returned to campus Wednesday afternoon, hearing many warm wishes from students and fellow faculty members but silence from the administration.
Camacho joined 13 immigration activists in holding a sign that read “President Obama: You Have Blood On Your Hands” to protest recent escalation in deportations of Central American refugee families. Each activist was brought to a Park Police facility in Washington, D.C. and released after posting $50 bail. They also were issued civil citations. Camacho said that since returning to Yale, she has received encouraging messages from colleagues and students but has yet to hear from University administrators.
“I’ve received no communication of any kind from University officials or anyone in an official capacity, just colleagues and students,” Camacho said. “My sense is that in University communities, many of us participate in political action. Over the years that I’ve been at Yale, I’ve participated in action related to immigrant rights and labor movements. There has never been any concern about that on the part of the University.”
University spokesman Tom Conroy said he would “leave it to” Camacho to comment on her arrest, and Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor said she views the situation as a private matter. University President Peter Salovey also did not comment.
Head of Pierson College Stephen Davis said speaking as a colleague of Camacho’s, he is glad to have her back on campus.
“I think what she did was an act of deep integrity from what I know of her as a person. She is someone for whom I have a great deal of respect and regard; she is someone I admire greatly,” he said. “I’ve seen her put her values into practice locally, whether it be in the context of conversations taking place on campus last semester or in her presence with students. To me she has always been someone who has enacted an authentic presence.”
All eight students in Ezra Stiles College interviewed by the News expressed unanimous support for her actions.
Julietta Garbasz ’18 said the bravery with which Camacho approached the protest has generated admiration amongst Stiles students, herself included.
“I have yet to hear a Stilesian say anything negative about the incident,” she said. “We all love [Ezra Stiles Master Stephen Pitti] and [Camacho] and are incredibly impressed by her strength of character and determination to change a flawed system. It’s so great that she took such a public stand for the rights of refuges in our community and our country.”
Camacho said a number of students in Stiles reached out to her to express support and concern as to whether she had arrived home safely. Camacho also said she has heard from students — including several from Stiles — involved with immigration issues either as activists or through personal experiences.
Pitti said Camacho’s involvement with immigration issues has been long-standing.
“Alicia has been involved in immigration issues in New Haven for as long as we have been at Yale — nearly 20 years,” he said. “She has been active in the city’s immigrant community as a member of the board of [Junta for Progressive Action] for the last 15 years, and she served a long term as the chair of the board of that organization. She responded to Junta’s invitation to draw attention to a human rights crisis that affects communities here and elsewhere.”
Ezra Stiles College was founded in 1961.