Arizona Students Construct ‘Border Fence’ On Campus

Mar 25, 2011 10:25am

ABC News on Campus reporter Tia Castaneda blogs: University of Arizona students have been dealing with quite an obstacle this week. A 400-yard mock border fence has been constructed right in the middle of campus. The fence spans the distance of four football fields, making it difficult to move from one side of the campus to the other. Student groups erected the fence during their spring break last week. Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that seeks to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, collaborated with the group No More Deaths. They spent the past eight months coming up with funding and project materials. John Washington, a graduate student at UA, is a member of No More Deaths, an organization that provides humanitarian aid to migrants. He says the temporary detour is worth every penny. “There’s been a lot of people speaking out but the message is just not getting heard,” said Washington. “Not very far from here there are people suffering and dying because of our policies and we want to educate and bring this knowledge closer to home.” But for some UA students, such as sophomore Rachel Feuerbach, the fence is more of a hassle than a conversation starter. “Go down to Mexico and help people out there. Don't waste your time preventing people from coming back and forth conveniently on campus,” said Feuerbach. Joshua Schafer, 21, said he understands why the fence was put up by the organizations, but added, "All it’s done for most people that I have spoken to is make them mad that it is hard to cross campus now. There are plenty of other ways to give education about this, and this one is a little too extreme because of the impact it is having on people going to class." The students who installed the fence asked humanitarian groups to decorate it, and talk with students and community members about the potentially dehumanizing aspects of border walls. Heather Craigie, a member of Borderlinks, a non-profit organization that creates awareness on border issues, came to adorn the fence with handmade posters.  “This whole display here is a really good opportunity to expose not just the University of Arizona but the Tucson community to the border that is right in our backyard,” said Craigie. Carol Thompson, the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Arizona, said the organizations followed the required steps to be granted permission to host an event in the mall area of the campus. "We don't make decisions based off of the content of what the speech is about, we just look at what the time, place and manner guidelines are and if they follow the campus' policy," said Thompson. According to No More Deaths, they received permission from the university to keep the $1,500 “road-block” up for a total of 10 days. Photos by Tia Castaneda/ABC News on Campus

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