LSJ Honors Class Tackles Immigration in Washington

Honors Presentation
A group of honors students presenting their research.

On Monday, June 3rd the 2013-14 Law, Societies, and Justice honors class invited students and faculty alike to view the culmination of their work with a video presentation followed by a discussion of the project and its implications.

This year Professor Angelina Godoy led the LSJ honors class, which focused on issues of immigration and deportation within Washington State. The class mainly took place during fall and winter quarter, but the scope of the project proved to be larger than the allotted time so students worked into the spring. The project consisted of an extensive research paper about the effects of deportation in Washington and two short documentary films that told the stories of specific students whose lives have been affected by their respective immigrant statuses.

When describing the experience, junior Bryce Ellis said, “To go from reading and discussing the reports and research conducted by other academics, to attempting to be those academics, researching and reporting on an issue you hope others will eventually read about was both awesome and daunting. And to do so with the level of independence that this class encouraged, even at times demanded, was not only critical to my development as a student, but also invigorating in the sense of confidence that it instilled in me.”

Senior Cassie Gawron echoed similar sentiments saying, “The most unique part of this class was the first-hand research that we were able to not only conduct, but ?lead as a class. We got to design our research project, decide what we wanted to look into, and adapted our project to the information we were receiving. I have never had the opportunity in another LSJ class to be this hands-on with research, which made the experience one-of-a-kind.”

When asked what the most impactful part of the experience was, Ellis said, “When we met with the youth, the experience was unlike anything else I had ever encountered in my time as an undergrad. There is a tremendous difference between hearing a second-hand account of tragedy, and being able to see and feel a first-hand account of how someone was so directly impacted by deportation, and just how real that tragedy was. Hearing all of these stories from a youthful perspective really stood out to me, as there was this unabridged honesty that left me with so many questions and mixed-emotions.”

Ellis said further: “This experience in particular was one that pushed me past my identity as a student and a researcher, to a more resounding place as a fellow human being, it was challenging and rewarding in a way that I will never forget.”

Gawron also emphasized the impact of the hands-on work saying, “My favorite moment was after we showed the youth that we had been working with a rough cut of the film. We had been working for so long on this video, and had no idea what the youth would say- would they hate it, want to change everything about it, etc? The high-school student that our film centered on loved it?- she was so happy with how we told her story. That gratification of producing something that not only we enjoyed, but truly represented an individual who needed to have her story told- that was a moment I will never forget.”

Gawron closed by saying, “People need to know that deportation policies are not abstract statutes that only affect adults, but are also debilitating barriers that negatively impact the lives of students and children everyday.”

Clearly, this year’s LSJ honors course made a significant impact on the students who participated and helped to provide a voice to a group of people who are rarely considered during the ongoing political debate over immigration.

The LSJ program would like to congratulate all of the students involved in the honors course and Professor Godoy on all of their hard work and hope that this course has been able to bring greater awareness to such a significant issue.

 

This article was written by Chase Beauclair.