Coverage for Drew Faust’s endorsement of the DREAM Act has taken off. Here’s a selection:
DREAM Act Portal
DREAM Act Texas
Fox Boston Blog
I Am Shadow
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Ponte Al Dia
Shots In The Dark
Take Part Blog
Looking at all the coverage, it’s interesting how easy all of the student organizing that went into getting Drew Faust to support the DREAM Act gets lost. Clicking on most of the above links, you’d think that Drew Faust just woke up one day and decided she would write a letter for unauthorized youth. The real story, here, isn’t Drew Faust’s support of the DREAM Act, but how Harvard students organized to get her to support the DREAM Act.
I began to tell the story of how Harvard student’s organized in this post. Unfortunately, this post will not complete the story. The truth is I have much work to do before I can tell the complete story. I have videos to edit, pictures to upload, people to interview, and that’s just the beginning. Once we have the story documented, we’re going to take it on the road, and try to get other universities to come out in support of the DREAM Act. I’m hoping that Drew Faust’s support of the DREAM Act will make it that much easier for other university presidents to do the same.
So, while I cannot tell the whole story of student organizing around Drew Faust’s support of the DREAM Act, I can at least tell part of it. Specifically, I can speak about the online component of our campaign. In the last post I asked Citizen Orange readers to sign a petition urging Drew Faust to support the DREAM Act through citizenspeak.org. It wasn’t something I pushed too hard, since we were focused on the rally. Shortly after that came the outrageous sentencing of Luis Ramirez’s murderers. I was also swamped with school work, so I never got around to pushing my full weight behind the citizenspeak.org, petition. With the help of others, I could have easily gotten 1000 people to sign it. But, without any real push a respectable 123 people still signed it.
The best part about citizenspeak.org is that it sent emails of signatories directly to Drew Faust. So while 123 signatories wasn’t much, the effect was still maximized by the emails. It is important to state that it wasn’t just the emails that swayed Faust. It was a combination of targetted meetings, demonstrations, and outreach to the rest of the Harvard student body. The stories behind those are much more exciting and can wait for a later date.
Still, it was interesting that the emails ended up being the medium through which Drew Faust expressed her support for the DREAM Act. I will admit that Drew Faust’s support caught all of us completely by surprise. I was ready for the school year to end so that we could regroup and come back strong next semester. Then, just a few days before the end of the Spring semester, everyone who signed the citizenspeak.org petition got the following email from President Faust:
Thank you for being in touch regarding your strong support for the DREAM Act, legislation pending in both the House and Senate. I appreciate your thoughtful advocacy on behalf of your fellow students and your efforts to move this legislation forward. Like you, I am very much in favor of the Act and the relief it would provide to many students across the country. I recently wrote to our two Senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, and to Congressman Michael Capuano, to express my strong support for the bill and to thank them for their co-sponsorship of the DREAM Act. I am pleased to share a copy of the letter to Senator Kennedy with you.
I do appreciate your writing on this important issue.
Drew FaustEmail – Drew Faust (20 May 2009)
Attached was the letter Drew Faust wrote to Senator Kennedy. I will link to the pdf file and write out the text below:
The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
317 Russel Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kennedy:
I am writing to share with you my strong support for S. 729, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and to thank you for your co-sponsorship and efforts on behalf of this vitally important legislation.
At Harvard, we have dedicated substantial attention and resources to improve access to higher education–certainly with our own financial aid initiatives for students at Harvard College, but also in our local communities with efforts to support talented students in Boston and Cambridge schools who are seeking higher education. We find that students are working hard, taking high level classes, serving in their communities, and dedicating themselves to their dreams of higher education and to fulfilling the promise of their future. For many, it is not easy with family challenges, under-resourced secondary schools, economic pressures, and myriad other issues, including, for a few, immigration status issues.
The DREAM Act would throw a lifeline to these students who are already working hard in our middle and high schools and living in our communities by granting them the temporary legal status that would allow them to pursue postsecondary education. I believe it is in our best interest to educate all students to their full potential–it vastly improves their lives and grows our communities and economy. This bill will help move us closer to this goal.
I greatly appreciate your leadership on this legislation.
Drew Gilpin FaustLetter – Drew Faust (18 May 2009)
I’m still elated about the fact that Faust did this. Drew Faust certainly wasn’t the first university president to support the DREAM Act, but she certainly is a powerful one. Still, even though Faust sent this letter to the 123 people who signed the petition, I don’t think she was expecting what happened next. After I asked if the letter was public, and if there was any objections to my sharing it with anyone, I went straight to the Boston Globe with it. It’s one of the few times you’ll see the Boston Globe scooping the Harvard Crimson.
That’s just the beginning of the story behind Drew Faust’s support of the DREAM Act. Now that other students are on vacation, hopefully I can get them to write with their perspectives. If not, I’ll interview them. I’m hoping our campaign to get Drew Faust to support the DREAM Act can be used as a model elsewhere. It was textbook organizing, inspired by the Student Immigrant Movement. That’s all she wrote for now, but I hope to write more soon.