EDITOR IN CHIEF
Joshua Garcia is a third-year student majoring in Latin American studies and walks to his car parked in Elmwood Park at the end of his days on campus.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, around 6:40 p.m. he discovered a note on his windshield.
“Illegals are not welcome!” it said.
“I decided to check if the cars around me had received the same letter, but I was the only one that I noticed that had received the hateful letter,” Garcia said in an email to the Gateway. “I felt so targeted and unsafe at that moment, [and] I decided to leave immediately.”
Garcia posted a photo of the letter on Facebook, along with a message about his experience. He said he felt like he was being followed to his car in the days prior to this incident and “never decided to look back” because he thought he “was just being paranoid and overreacting.”
As it turns out, he was not overreacting.
“It is upsetting the fact that people assume who you are based on the color of your skin because I am not undocumented and this is not the first time something like this has happened,” Garcia said. “In July, fliers were distributed in the west parking garage wishing people to deport undocumented individuals before the school year started.”
Following his quickly viral post on Facebook, Garcia said he spoke with Campus Security the next morning to file a report on the incident.
Wednesday morning, all students received an email from Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D, emphasizing: “At UNO we tell all of our students ‘you are welcome here.’ That means everyone.”
Gold wrote about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which continues its battle in the Supreme Court, and explained to students: “we are hopeful that a pathway forward can be determined and sustained.”
UNO Student Body President and NU Student Regent Aya Yousuf released a statement on social media Wednesday afternoon, stating: “UNO prides itself on how welcoming and inclusive its campus is and will continue to be. To everyone on our campus, you are welcome here… Please, take care of one another.”
Garcia shared the sentiment and wants UNO students to have conversations about these issues.
“I do not blame the person who left this note on my windshield because people who hold high authority positions are enabling this type of behavior,” Garcia said. “As a matter of fact, I wish no violence or harm against this person I just wish I can have a dialogue with the individual and hug it out.”
UNO has not released any specific plans to keep students safe from racial incidents like this or what educational measures may be taken but shared that counseling services are available and Campus Security will continue patrolling campus 24 hours a day.
“I am always learning about people with different backgrounds, which is the beauty of UNO and our country that we can learn from our differences within our identities,” Garcia said. “I am always surrounded by a diverse group of students since I am a student worker at the Multicultural Affairs Office in the student center, and the amount of support that is offered there is tremendous!”
To find resources, students can contact the following:
Office of Multicultural Affairs
Counseling and Psychological Services
Main Desk: 402.554.2648
Emergency Number: 402.554.2911