On Monday Carlos Rodriguez, President of Student Government of Seattle University, announced his resignation. He spoke with the Spectator one day prior. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Rodriguez plans on holding the Seattle U administration accountable after he leaves office.
Nick Turner: When did the thought first come to your mind?
Carlos Rodriguez: This was a thought I’d been thinking about really since I started because of the whole election…It just got more realistic when Trump’s executive orders on immigration came out…and the plan to build a wall and all that. That’s when it became real for me…My hope is that maybe no one takes over, and we see what it’s like to let it function without a president. I’m required to go to Board of Trustee meetings, Board of Regents meetings, all these committee meetings, and they don’t really ask for my input…Part of the reason I want to leave, or am leaving, is because I feel like I can’t create meaningful change within student government, and I’d rather be out in the community protesting and doing things that are gonna make an impact on someone’s life. If the government that I know isn’t doing stuff to protect me as an undocumented person, I just don’t think I can mirror, or even attempt to fix, what government is like for people of color.
NT: So you’re taking it as an opportunity to become involved, in a more tangible sense?
Rodriguez wears a scarlet “U” on his chest to display his undocumented status.
CR: Yeah. So the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in communication with a social worker who is helping an undocumented student in high school attend college. I gave them resources for SU and it’s really funny because she was like, “Oh yeah, I tried looking on the website for information regarding undocumented students,” and she said she couldn’t find anything. I have an issue with that…Yesterday I got so many people asking me if I was going to go to the [protest] at SeaTac. And I was like, undocumented people can’t really…I can’t risk that. I could be deported if I do this, so I know what I can and can’t do.
NT: What did you think when you read Fr. Sundborg’s statement [on Trump’s executive order]?
CR: I just don’t think that SU is equipped to handle more undocumented students on this campus…And I just don’t know if SU can dedicate themselves to doing that right now. There are so many things that are being impacted by the new administration, like international students and undocumented students and Muslim students…That’s the reality for so many students, and being undocumented doesn’t help at all. I really wish there was more that SU was doing to help, specifically [for] undocumented students, but there’s so much that can be done to help everyone that’s being affected by the administration.
NT: Would you say your status as an undocumented citizen is one of the biggest reasons for your decision to resign?
CR: Yes. Like I mentioned earlier, it affects every single aspect of my life…I went to five different high schools. I moved around a lot because I was literally fleeing from anti-immigrant laws in Georgia…It shouldn’t be my job to bring every issue or be a spokesperson for undocumented students’ rights at this university…I guess that’s what it really comes down to—I’m really tired of trying to advocate for things that I don’t think are gonna change at this school. I can’t waste more of my energy in student government doing that.
How can I contribute so much to a society that doesn’t want me in it?
NT: How do you see yourself being involved in the campus community in the months to come?
CR: I want to be able to help more students like me go to college— even not like me. Any immigrant, anyone who’s been attacked by the new administration. I want to be a part of the conversation on this campus while I’m still here…I think SU really needs to step up on how we talk about a lot of these issues, and how we are proactive about these issues. I don’t want someone to have to go through a shitty situation for something to change. But for me, that was the case. Usually, if I started crying, something changed after that…I think this is about so much more than just me specifically, and bigger than undocumented people. I just share that with everyone because I can’t stress it enough. This isn’t just one single issue; it’s connected with so many other things that are going on in this country. We really need to start talking about it like it is.
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