In the days following the presidential election, Richard Aguirre wanted to do more to support vulnerable people.Aguirre, the director of corporate and foundation relations, purchased purple safety pins to sell for 25 cents on campus. He encourages students and faculty to wear the pins to show support for Latino students on campus as well as other marginalized groups.
Students can stop by his office in the basement of the Administration Building to pick up a safety pin. There they will also receive a card that explains what the safety pin represents.
The card reads, “By wearing this Purple Safety Pin, I show my solidarity with women, people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, LGTBQ+ people and anyone else threatened by fear, hate, intolerance and discrimination. They are safe with me and I will do all I can to protect them and to be an advocate for their civil rights.”
While Aguirre’s focus is on Latino students and immigrants in the Goshen community, he does not want to minimize the struggles that other vulnerable communities are facing.
“My focus is on immigrants and Latino students,” Aguirre said, “not because there aren’t other people, but because they are the most at risk.”
He understands that some people may critique this as an effort of “liberals who want to feel better about themselves,” but he makes it clear that if it is a sincere gesture of support, it can be important. He also points out that to him these safety pins are not anti-Trump, but rather pro-people who are vulnerable.
“I think it’s much more serious than politics,” he said.
But beyond wearing a purple safety pin, Aguirre wants to get students who want to help involved. The simplest thing for people to do now is to show support according to Aguirre. He also suggested students offer to accompany other students who don’t feel safe going out into the community alone.
Aguirre mentioned that GC’s understanding of faith is to, “extend hospitality to everyone regardless of race, sexual orientation or immigration status.” With that being said, he feels that since the college has welcomed the immigrants in the community, there is a moral obligation to help them in their crisis.
“It’s very possible that some of our students will be deported early next year,” he said. “Those are the students that are in the most danger right now.”
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 27 percent of Indiana’s undocumented population is under the age of 24. Goshen College provided $123,000 in aid for undocumented students in the 2015-2016 year, and Goshen community schools are almost 52 percent Latino.
Aguirre cited Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:31-46 as the most relevant Bible passages for Christian motivation to welcome immigrants and other marginalized groups.
“We always have a choice to how we respond,” he said, “but I think that responding to help is so important right now. We as a college need to be supportive of people in groups that are vulnerable.”