The Gustavian Weekly

Gustie of the Week: Daniella Habib | The Gustavian Weekly

By Monali Bhakta - Staff Writer | February 22, 2019 | Gustie of the Week, Variety

Daniella Habib is a senior Political Science major, with GWS and Peace Studies minors who is one of the Co-Captains of the 24th annual Building Bridges Conference.

Because she was politically active in high school, it made sense she leaned toward this field of study. She first heard about Building Bridges during the Involvement Fair where she engaged in conversation with the Co-Chairs about the current year’s topic, “The War on Drugs.”

The topic of how how U.S. drug policies criminalize underrepresented populations was something she was interested in, motivating her to join Building Bridges. The success of the past years heavily relied on the leadership due to their engagement and excitement about social justice.

“The way that Co-Chairs, E-Board, and the full committee vibe together has a large impact on how the group functions. You can see the difference in years where people are really riled up and passionate…that also has to do with how interested people are about the topic”, Habib said.

The title of this year’s conference is “Immigration: Demolishing the Legacy of Bigotry in the Land of Opportunity.” The central focus of immigration was finalized in late July due to newsworthy events happening at the national level, especially since this would be a hot-button issue under the current Presidential Administration.

The conference is aiming to focus on U.S. Policy and history towards immigration and how it leads to dehumanization.

One of the keynote speakers is David Fitzgerald, a highly qualified Professor of the University of California-San Diego, who focuses on U.S. asylum and conducts research on how countries have implemented racist policies that inhibit certain groups of people from situating here.

Julissa Arce is another important keynote who brings an authentic perspective because she was undocumented her entire life.

“Her story challenges the ways in which we view immigrants…she was able to go to college on full scholarships, and climb the corporate ladder, and become a high executive in Goldman Sachs. She’s just an amazing figure with an incredible story to tell about the way she lived her life prior to being a full American citizen,” Habib sad.

Aside from the keynotes, Workshops is able to hit on clear subtopics that portray the issue in a holistic manner, and Action Piece gives a visual, forthright approach with a concept entirely constructed by students.

She hopes attendees will recognize there has been a repetition of bigoted speech, and freedom and liberty is not guaranteed to all people, especially immigrants.

It is critical to recognize these injustices as history “echos” with similar cruelties of the past happening in front of us.

Given the latest events at the national level, it scares her how the country has come to such a low-point with empathy and compassion being so difficult to find.

Nevertheless, she feels a sense of hope when witnessing the incredible work students are doing to invoke positive change on this campus.

“The Building Bridges Conference is supposed to provide [people] with the confidence, language, and skills to allow them to feel comfortable having difficult discussions. Considering how relevant and politically charged this one is, I want people to be active especially going into the 2020 Election,” Habib said.

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