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Earlhamites speak out against global tragedies, plan march in Richmond

November 30, 2015

Earlhamites are speaking out against recent atrocities in the world and planning a march on Richmond to spread their message off campus.

Students have started an “Break the Silence” campaign, which began last week with the construction of informational wall featuring messages from several student advocacy groups and continued with a candlelight vigil organized by student government and French House. Both events have jumpstarted discussions about diversity and how they intersect with high-profile acts of terrorism taking place in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“This is a call for students, faculty and staff to listen to the voice of the oppressed and not take silence as a stance,” says Hashem Abushama ’17, a Palestinian who is co-president of the Student Executive Council.

“There seemed to be much more shock across the United States and much more reaction to the atrocities in Paris than the ones in Kenya, Nigeria, Palestine, and Lebanon,” he says. “We want to highlight the parallels between them but also push for a productive conversation that highlights how we seem to view different lives in different ways.” 

Nasser Karmali ’16, a resident of French House, said last week’s events were much needed.

“We have some very globally engaged students and this vigil was a reflection of how passionate and how caring our community is,” says Karmali, who was born in Portugal but grew up in France. “I think this sends out a message to our administration that we want to help, that we care and that we’re all in this together.

“It’s very easy to look at the news and not feel a connection, or to empathize for a few minutes and then forget about it but this is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing,” he says. “The moment we stop caring, we are no better than the offenders, so this vigil strengthened how important and how consequential all these events are and I’m delighted with the turnout.

With one in every five students on campus representing a country other than the U.S., Earlham has one of the most diverse student bodies in the country.

“With Earlham's Principles and Practices as touchstone, Earlham students, faculty, and staff commit to working together to try to make our community and the rest of the world a better place,” Earlham President David Dawson says. “Especially in the wake of recent violent and unjust events, it is encouraging to see Earlham students at the forefront of this effort, letting their lives speak forth our deeply shared values of peace and justice.”

Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, students will march in Richmond to spread awareness about the struggle of Syrian refugees resettling in the United States. During the march, students will hand out flowers to community members with each flower containing a story about a refugee. Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced he would block Syrian refugees from settling in Indiana and one Syrian family has already been diverted to Connecticut, according to national reports.

“We have seen strong support from the student body to do something about this and we want to bring this issue in front of the College and the community,” says Grace Makhoul ‘18, a native of Syria, and co-president elect of the Student Executive Council. “We are hoping that with a march we can put ourselves out there a little bit.

“We want to share our perspective with those who may be against having refugees here,” she says. “We want to make an impact.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.



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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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