At a time when discussions on immigration are especially heated, Ohio University is providing students with the opportunity to broaden their views on the issue.
The OU Wealth and Poverty theme is hosting the speaker series Feb. 1-8 in Alden Library. The speakers will discuss immigration at the local, national and international level throughout the week.
“We come up with this interesting topic each semester, and we put together a few research talks,” Yeong-Hyun Kim, an associate professor of geography, said. “It’s really interdisciplinary.”
The speakers to be featured include a photographer, an engineer and other professors in different disciplines. When helping organize the event, the Wealth and Poverty theme wanted to make sure to include professionals from a broad array of careers.
By including speakers with a wide set of careers, it broadens the discussion about immigration, Kim said.
“It’s an opportunity to broaden the immigration debate beyond the current focus of ‘build the wall’ or even border control measures,” Kim said. “People just assume, ‘Oh that’s inequality and poverty,’ so social scientists are it but no, there are engineers, too.”
The Wealth and Poverty theme also wanted to make sure all levels of immigration were covered. It is important to understand the local, national and international levels of immigration, Kim said.
Having speakers discuss immigration in other countries, not just the U.S., is beneficial to students to understand the complexity that is immigration, Kim said.
“Students could have a much better understanding of immigration when they can step back from their own case and see what other countries do,” Kim said.
Erick Meza, a senior studying international business, relates personally to issues of immigration. Both of his parents are from Mexico.
“Immigration is important to any country,” Meza said. “It brings a different way of thinking; a different perspective.”
Meza does believe immigration is important, but he also believes it needs to be well-monitored for safety reasons.
He does not stand directly on the “yes” or “no” side of the immigration argument. Meza believes seeing both sides is important to understand immigration better.
Kim also believes people need to be more understanding and listen to the other side of the argument about immigration. She believes people can have their own opinions, but they need to come from evidence and logic, not prejudices.
“A lot of views on immigrants are not based on evidence, they’re based on perceptions,” Kim said. “It’s OK to be against immigration, as long as they can come up with good evidence or something that’s based on logic.”
Kim hopes students are able to learn about the complexities of immigration through the talks. She also hopes students aren’t afraid to talk about their own opinions and ask questions.
“Hopefully students can, rather than listening to the lectures, they can speak up,” Kim said.
“The worst case is that students are afraid of speaking out.”