March gives students a voice

By Morgan Fink

Coming Out of the Shadows is an annual event on campus put on by DREAM Action NIU that gives undocumented students a voice and offers support.

The rally was held Wednesday, March 29 in the MLK Commons, followed by a march that ended at Zulauf Hall.

DREAM Action NIU is a student-led organization that aims to increase awareness about the situations that undocumented students face in the U.S. and particularly on our campus. The organization strives to develop strategies to ensure that these students are able to attain higher levels of education and academic success, according to their Huskie Link page.

The Coming Out of the Shadows NIU event is inspired by the annual Coming Out of the Shadows event, coordinated by the Immigrant Youth Justice League. The Immigrant Youth Justice League is a Chicago-based organization led by undocumented organizers that aim for recognition of immigrants, according to the Immigrant Youth Justice League webpage. The Coming Out of the Shadows event is an act of resistance against rhetoric that discredits the narratives of undocumented immigrants.

For this year’s event to succeed, planning started in January to book the locations, receive proper equipment and book the band, Quinto Imperio.

Wednesday’s event had the highest turnout that DREAM Action NIU has seen for Coming out of the Shadows. An estimated total of 270 people attended the rally and the march, said Laura Vivaldo, DREAM Action NIU president.

“We strived for a big turnout because the sense of community and empowerment that other student organizations can have towards undocumented students [is important],” said Sam Schrader, senior community leadership and civic engagement and computer science major. “It means a lot for those students to know that other groups outside of DREAM Action support them.”

Some highlights of the day included the band Quinto Imperio, a local Hispanic band from the south side of Chicago, that played its music in the MLK Commons during the rally.

“Their stories energized the students and visitors passing by the rally,” Vivaldo said. “The stories I heard today were powerful and uplifting. Everyone who participated today left with a sense of empowerment.”