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Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's sophomore talks about human rights work, advocacy

Saint Mary’s sophomore Annie Maguire spoke out in support of human rights throughout the year. However, because December is Universal Human Rights Month, the importance of advocating for others is especially relevant.

“It is our right as humans living on this earth to use our voices for the good, and as college students we are taught to question our realities and use our voice in ways that we may not feel comfortable doing but are very important,” Maguire said.

One major way that Maguire is currently working in support of human rights is through her work to have revisions made to the new policy regarding student assembly at Saint Mary’s, she said.

The student assembly policy was put into effect Nov. 13. According to the written policy, students must submit an application at least 72 hours prior to the assembly, and the reason for assembly must align with the College’s mission.

“When that was proposed, that immediately kind of struck me because throughout my life I have attended a lot of protests,” Maguire said. “It’s something that’s important to me and it seemed like an infringement on our rights to assemble as students.”

In response to this policy, Maguire said she had a few critiques she wished to point out to the administration.

“I had critiques about the specifics of the policy itself — it seemed like there weren’t many students who had much to say in opposition to the policy, which I think is why it went through so easily,” Maguire said.

Maguire spoke with administration recently about these critiques, and said that the administration is open to potentially revising the policy to meet some of the critiques raised by Maguire.

“I wanted to bring it up to Karen Johnson, which I did, and she was open to what I had to say,” Maguire said. “Overall I think I was received well because after the meeting she said that the points that I brought up, specific criticisms to the policy, would allow her to enter into the process of revision of the policy.”

Being able to peacefully assemble on campus is important to Maguire because of her involvement in peaceful protests in her youth, she said.

“Assembling has always been a way I could express my voice in a peaceful manner, that people would pay attention and listen and I think the cause gains great awareness when people come together collectively in a commitment to peace,” Maguire said.

The assemblies that Maguire participated in during her childhood gave her the opportunity to see peaceful assembly as a form of showing solidarity in a visual fashion, she said.

“I felt such a strong sense of solidarity to the cause and to the people I was standing with,” Maguire said. “So I wasn’t speaking for anyone but I was speaking with people, and just that visual representation is so powerful and so moving.”

Maguire said she believes that these demonstrations are helpful in supporting causes.

“If we are coming together to make a change, one of the most effective ways we can be heard is to peacefully demonstrate what we believe in,” Maguire said.

The peaceful assemblies that Maguire has been a part of both in the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame and the greater South Bend community have been “peaceful and effective,” Maguire said. She said that she feels that a successful peaceful assembly raises the public consciousness about issues that may cause some discomfort, but that is a productive feeling.

“Overall, I think the responses were mixed,” Maguire said. “But I think that’s a good thing to stir a certain amount of discomfort. That’s kind of the goal sometimes is to encourage people to question their realities.”

In addition to her work regarding the student assembly policy, Maguire has also been participating in other human rights related causes. These include advocating for fair trade and for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, she said.

Each Tuesday, she partakes in “Call for All,” a meeting where students call their representatives to advocate for a DREAM Act to be passed, she said. These meetings began occurring last academic year, when President Donald Trump rescinded the DACA program.

“Just standing with them I think is really important, especially in a way that’s a sustainable campaign,” Maguire said. “We have been doing this every week since last year in an effort to keep pushing until we see change.”

Maguire said the continuing of this campaign is important.

“The reality is this is not something you can stand up for one day but then the next day be silent, because it’s a constant fight for those people who face a serious threat of being deported everyday and living with that fear,” Maguire said.

Her commitment to human rights is not just an interest, but is more of a duty, Maguire said.

“I can’t live with myself if I’m not trying to make a change for others and trying to make a change in this world,” Maguire said. “I just feel like I’m not doing it right if I’m not fighting for human rights.”