IU Student Association President Sara Zaheer was presenting on mental health issues on campus to the IU Board of Trustees on Wednesday afternoon when 11 people walked in carrying posters. One said “WWHBWD What Would Herman B Wells Do.” Another said “#SanctuaryCampus”. They formed a line at the back of Alumni Hall and held up their signs.
These people were members of the UndocuHoosier Alliance.
They were there in a silent rally to advocate undocumented students and for their call to make IU a sanctuary campus, a campus that would protect undocumented students.
The group stood quietly in the back of the trustee’s meeting for an hour as presenters spoke about food insecurity, and the board honored Morgan Mohr, who was recently named a Rhodes Scholar.
Just as the meeting was about to conclude, IU President Michael McRobbie addressed the UndocuHoosiers.
“We appreciate the way that you have conducted yourself and we are very sympathetic to the issues which you are concerned,” McRobbie said.
The alliance’s leader, Willy Palomo, encouraged the members to speak with the administrators gathered for the meeting during the break and after it ended.
“We are here today to make people aware, get something done about it and further get the news out,” UndocuHoosier member and IU freshman Olivia Rusk said.
Rusk said she was glad McRobbie acknowledge the group at the end of the meeting and that the alliance was able to get the board’s attention.
Another alliance member, Noelle Ibrahim, said she appreciated that the group was recognized.
“I am very grateful he did acknowledge us,” she said. “Spreading awareness was our aim.”
After the meeting ended, members of the alliance continued to hold their posters and speak with the many people from IU gathered.
Graduate student Katie Linds was the individual holding the “What Would Herman B Wells Do” poster.
She said she was inspired to make it as she climbed up the steps to the Herman B Wells library. She remembered all the times she had been told about Herman B Wells and his calls for inclusion, like when he worked for desegregation and LGBT issues.
“I believe he would be open to a sanctuary campus,” Lind said.