Coalition aims for open dialogue

By Maria Isabel Cubillo and Jose Guillen 

The Coalition of Social Action, a new group, invited students, staff and faculty to address their anxieties caused by president Donald Trump’s administration.

The coalition aims to organize socially conscious events. The coalition plans to have panels, lectures, documentary viewings, forums, teach-ins and more pertaining to issues of the East Los Angeles College community.

The first meeting was held on Feb. 9 in the Helen Miller Library’s student conference room. Students, staff and administration members voted on the goals and purpose of the coalition. Some of the issues that the coalition discussed include racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, media literacy, police brutality, mass incarceration, immigration, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer rights, climate change and denial of science, among others.

The gathering was organized by professor of anthropology Julie Bernard, who had the support of other department members in attendance. Bernard had previously proposed to start this group in a Senate meeting in December. “We want everyone on campus to know we are here for you, whether you’re a student, faculty, staff or administrator. We are all in this together,.and coming together is a bond we can all share to be a community,” Bernard said.

Attendees expressed their concerns about the aim of the coalition. One of the participants was quick to clarify that they did not want another committee that got together to have open disagreement about social injustices, but rather to bring openness to the lines of communication on campus. “It’s great to see professors here that advocate for students, try really hard to help and aren’t just here for their paychecks,” Ariel Vargas, student.

Several participants emphasized that one of the aims of the coalition is to have everyone come together to find solutions and to set up support systems for all during these turbulent times. Dolores Delgado, University of California, Los Angeles and ELAC professor of Chicano Studies, proposed to create a rapid response guide that would include all the campus resources to help students who are struggling.

“ We know (our actions) will have political impact. We also want to acknowledge the pain and concern the students, faculty, staff and our surrounding communities feel. Everyone needs to be heard, to be able to express themselves and to be honored in order to touch the humanity within all of us,” Sociology Professor Rin Kahla said.

One of the reasons for the group coming together is the fear and anxiety felt by many under the Trump Administration. Kamy Khashayar, professor of engineering and technology, expressed how Trump’s executive order banning people from sevenMuslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. impacted his family. His niece and nephew were in Iran during a school break when the travel ban was enacted, he said, and added they are afraid to return to the States and continue their studies.

A federal judge in Seattle halted President Trump’s travel ban onFeb. 3 by placing a restraining order. Khashayar was pleased to hear the ruling. “It has helped, but I remember when I came to America in 1976 and how I felt about the America I love and I’m proud to be a part of, and how different it has become now.” Geography Professor StephenKoletty said changes in the community will always be there, but that community members should not feel defeated.

The next meeting will be held on March 7 from 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm. in building E7 room 410. For more information about ELAC’s Coalition for Social Action, join: groups/2079445718948842/.

The Facebook group is closed, it is searchable, but public can not view the posts of the members. Students who want to receive information via the email list should email Professor Bernard at

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