Victory At Harvard: Drew Faust's DREAM Act Endorsement - Part I

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Act On A Dream Rally 1 May 2009 - Citizen Orange.jpg(Picture: Harvard Act On A Dream Rally - 1 May 2009)

I took the weekend to rest after what was a hectic last two weeks of school.  I won't be able to relax until I get my grades back, but I've started to ease into a summer of pro-migrant advocacy.  There's so much that I want to write about, but I should start with Drew Faust's endorsement of the DREAM Act.
Coverage for Drew Faust's endorsement of the DREAM Act has taken off.  Here's a selection:

Newspapers:
Boston Globe
Dallas Morning News
The Dartmouth
Harvard Crimson

Television:
Fox 25
Univision Nueva Inglaterra

Websites/Blogs:
CAUSA Oregon
Change.org
Documenting Me
DREAM Act Portal
DREAM Act Texas
Fox Boston Blog
Global Visas
I Am Shadow
ImmigrationProf Blog
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Ponte Al Dia
Shots In The Dark
Take Part Blog
Vivir Latino
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.

Sincerely,
Drew Faust
Email - 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.

Sincerely,
Drew Gilpin Faust
Letter - 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.

UPDATE: I just saw this from Dreamactivist.org.  It figures dreamactivist would know where the real story is and focus on the youth activism component. 

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6 Comments

kyledeb said:

I cross-posted this on The Sanctuary, and Blue Mass. Group.

Gracias for giving the backstory Kyle, and anyone who thinks that Faust did this out of the blue is truly dismissing the hard work of student organizers, not just at Harvard but all over the country.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thanks Maegan for being one of only a few to link to the context on all of this.

Jo Lee said:

Hi Everyone: I co-founded and run CitizenSpeak.org - a free email advocacy service for grassroots organizations. I'm really thrilled that the service was able to help you advance your cause.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve the service, feel free to send comments to jo_lee (at) citizenspeak (dot) org

Best of luck in the future! Jo Lee

Peter Coyotl said:

Great work Kyle. I was impressed to find an e-mail from Drew Faust in my e-mail box. Many university presidents would not have responded in a mass e-mail to all that signed a petition urging their support for the Dream Act.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Woo hoo! Front Paged at Blue Mass. Group.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on May 26, 2009 12:37 AM.

6th Annual Migrant Trail: Pro-Migrant SanctuarySphere was the previous entry in this blog.

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