Tomorrow, Occidental College will host students, faculty, administrators and union staff for the Association for Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) symposium. The conference, titled “Moving Forward: Empowering Our Communities,” aims to link professionals, student leaders and faculty leaders in higher education to nonprofits working on immigration-related issues. According to Rebecca Stolz, director of strategic and special projects at Occidental, who planned the event, they hope to begin a conversation on how institutions of higher education can protect immigrant communities. The symposium is not open to the general public but about 300 guests are registered as of now, according to Stolz. The sponsor, AICCU, works in Sacramento to ensure that California higher education institutes have a voice, focusing on issues concerning financial aid and admissions standards.
Occidental is hosting the Southern California symposium, while Mills College in Oakland is hosting the Northern California symposium this year. The symposium will include sessions that cover topics ranging from policy and legal issues to advocacy for immigrant communities. The event begins Friday at 8 a.m. in Thorne Hall with registration. Later in the day, breakout sessions will take place outside of Thorne Hall in classrooms and open spaces around campus. Each individual registered will attend two breakout sessions.
“I think it’s hard to connect with people in Thorne,” Stolz said. “But if you’re in a breakout session, the hope would be that you find counterparts at other schools or nonprofits and you make those connections.”
Other schools including Biola University, California Lutheran University, University of Southern California, Pomona College and Loyola Marymount University will host breakout sessions as well. Occidental will host the session about sanctuary campuses.
Anthony Tirado Chase, professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) at Occidental, has been a primary organizer of the sanctuary campus breakout session. Chase wants to move from a general sense of what a sanctuary campus means to collectively deciding upon a singular definition. To Chase, this symposium is not only important but necessary.
“We collectively are facing a novel, disorienting situation that threatens members of our community,” Chase said via email. “This demands that we respond not just with outrage but by preparing tangible responses to possible Trump Administration policies that are both imaginable and quite frightening. The time to begin to resist such possibilities is now.”
For the second breakout session, the options remain the same, but there will also be a Resource Table Networking Fair, where people from other campuses and universities can learn about nonprofits located in Los Angeles. 10 nonprofits are signed up to attend thus far.
“It would be wonderful if people from Oxy could show up,” Stolz said. “It’s a start up conversation, so I know there are a lot of people with a lot of questions and concerns about what we’re going to do, and this is not going to address all of that, but it’s a way to start to bring people together.”
You can find a complete schedule of the day-long symposium on the Eventbrite Registration page, as well as descriptions of the breakout sessions. While the event is free, registration is required to attend all or part of the day, and will be open until 5 p.m. today, March 9.