Eric Cruz-Lopez, from one immigrant to another, we need to talk.
I am the son of immigrants, an immigrant myself, and although I was never undocumented, I can assure you that if we sat down to talk we would find more similarities than differences. I recognize that I speak from a position of privilege, where I can relate to your struggle, but can never fully understand it - because I don't live it. I have also never faced discrimination because most people perceive me to be a white man.
I don't know if you love UConn, but I do. It wasn't love at first sight for me, it was a slow-moving love affair that now holds me completely hostage and the thought of leaving it puts a knot in my stomach. I am grateful for every opportunity and moment UConn has provided me with - yet UConn isn't perfect. In my role as a Resident Assistant, I have come across many students of color who confront me with their reality that they do not feel safe at UConn, which breaks my heart.
I attended that Mansfield Town Council Meeting months ago, in which you spoke so honestly and eloquently about your own condition. I was blown away. Now more than ever, our country need people like you Mr. Lopez, people who are willing to get down in the trenches and put a face and a voice to the faceless and the voiceless. I am a firm believer that what makes America so special, is its diversity in culture and perspective. A country that unlike any other, doesn't hold a blueprint about what it means to be an American. After hearing you speak at that meeting, I am certain your activism is far from done, despite this misstep.
But here's the thing: you played right into their playbook. When you vandalized UConn property, you gave them ammunition. What you did was wrong, but you don't need me to tell you that. Take this from someone who was devastated after Trump's election despite not having nearly as high of stakes as you do: going forward, you must think about how your actions transcend to the movement. Sure, you were only representing yourself - not the movement when you vandalized UConn. But that doesn't matter. That is not what the public will see nor think, especially not them.
Journalism and Political Science major, UConn '18