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OPINION: A hurricane every day

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This week was tough. Opinion writer Zach Reizes sums it up with a silver lining. 

Labor Day weekend began with a storm of unforeseen proportions, and the mayhem did not end there.

As Hurricane Harvey battered Houston, Texas, our Facebook feeds were flooded with images of tired and hungry people stranded by the storm. That same week, photos from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh reminded us catastrophe was not solely on our doorstep. While family and friends in Texas hunkered down from the storm, the Southeast Ohio community offered what support it could. In the face of a national tragedy, leaders around Ohio reacted with messages and actions declaring strong support.

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration dealt another blow to our community by announcing the end to The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. DACA allows hundreds of thousands of immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, to reside without fear of deportation in the United States. Enacted through an Obama-era executive order, DACA was a temporary program never designed to last. And with its repeal, Congress may be forced to act on larger immigration reform questions. Yet given the severity and swiftness of this policy change, our friends, neighbors and coworkers now face uncertainty in the workplace and their home lives.

Facing down another national storm, the Bobcat family did what it does best. President Duane Nellis released an immediate statement condemning the decision at the federal level. In addition, Nellis went a step further and added a day to his Washington, D.C. itinerary in order to advocate for Ohio University’s DACA students. Lorna-Jean Edmonds, the Vice Provost of the Center for International Studies, released a statement that evening, followed by a strongly worded statement from the Ohio U Student Senate International Affairs Commission. The campus mobilized to ensure students with questions and concerns had a place to go and resources to support them. In addition, Ohio Gov. John Kasich made a staunch statement in support of allowing DACA recipients to remain in the United States, and to come to Ohio if they so choose. Such a decisive response from state and university leadership to the DACA announcement was impactful in a very positive way.

Ohio U and the Athens community were still reeling from the federal DACA announcement on Thursday when Betsy DeVos announced a review of Obama-era campus sexual assault policies. Although no specifics were mentioned, changes to federal guidelines for investigating sexual assault can make or break campus efforts to keep students safe. In the face of a third storm that week, the Office of the President and undergraduate Student Senate once again voiced strong concerns about the changes. While Student Senate did not release a public statement, Senator at-Large Sam Miller confirmed an assertive statement was drafted and will be revisited should sexual assault laws be changed.

Brewing throughout the week was a final storm: Hurricane Irma. With eyes glued to the forecast and flurries of texts to friends and family in Irma’s path, Bobcats finished Friday preparing for a disaster. Student Senate members Nick Felt and Abby Harder spearheaded a campaign to raise money for Irma victim relief, netting over $500 in a single day of campus tabling. Once again, the community joined arms in the face of an oncoming storm that could impact us all.

Last week was a tough one for this country, but this community responded by banding together in the best possible way. Consistent and forceful messages from the leadership of Ohio U and our community keeps this campus strong. For the sake of many students’ mental health, all must know the administration and Ohio’s elected officials are here for them. Students must demand accountability and assistance from their leaders at every level of government as we continue to face down the storms ahead.

Disclaimer: Zach Reizes is the International Studies Senator of Student Senate.

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