Vote “Yes” for International Students

On Tuesday November 8, I was in shock like many others while watching how Donald Trump became the president-elect of the United States. I had seen during the campaign every aspect of my identity, those I accept as well as those imposed on me, being under attack. So I am appealing to you as an academic, as an international student, as a woman, as a person of color, and as someone from Muslim heritage to consider what really is at stake with this unionization at Columbia University.

I did not have any say in the American election. I also did not anticipate the results, like many others living in the liberal bubbles of the East Coast. But we have a say in this unionization election and this is the only way we can have a political voice in this country. The union can hold the Columbia administration accountable. This means the administration would not be able to unilaterally change policies that affect procedures on sexual assault or our health care plans.

Columbia administration has run an anti-union campaign using Trump’s methods of misinformation and inducing fear. The Provost’s email or the ISSO’s circulation of the Spectator’s op-ed are clear examples of this tactic. I have worked with the International Organizing Group of the GWC-UAW since its inception. What UAW did for us, and is still doing, was to provide the infrastructural support to campaign and bargain for issues that mattered to us, like summer language funding for international students, the 2014 tax debacle, or waiving of international students fee. We make the union and we make it stand for what we believe in and what we need to happen on our campus. So I appeal to you, whether you are an international student or not, to consider how this unionization can give political voice to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. International students are almost half of the graduate community at Columbia University and their present and futures in this country will be even more uncertain under a Trump administration. Vote on December 7 and 8 and vote yes for unionization.