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Two ASU campuses set to host border issues event

February 17, 2010

The 7th annual border justice series event at Arizona State University’s West campus is spreading its wings and gathering a new enthusiasm just in time for the upcoming “Families, Justice and the Border” exhibit and forum.

This year’s event is spread over three days and two ASU campuses, giving it a new prominence and greater reach. The dates are March 24 and 25 on the West campus, while the Civic Space Park by the Downtown Phoenix campus will host performances and community education activities on March 27. The event is part of classroom coursework in the Master’s in Social Justice and Human Rights degree program offered by the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“The students have always been involved in the event, but this year it is a part of the coursework, which places a greater emphasis on its importance,” said graduate student Carrie Wallinger, who will graduate from the program in May. “The three days and our presence on two of the university’s campuses are the result of the hard work and dedication of 25 students and faculty in the social justice and human rights program.

“Mixing the West and Downtown campuses opens the event to more people, and will let more people know that ASU is dealing with these types of important issues.”

All events over the three days are free and open to the public. Included on the West campus schedule of events are an art exhibit, panel discussions, plenary speakers and a performance of “Tears of Lives” by the New Carpa Theatre Company under the direction of ASU faculty member James Garcia, who also wrote the play. Also scheduled is a viewing of the film “The Least of These,” a powerful documentary exploring the American immigration policy of family detention.  West campus activities will take place on the Fletcher Library lawn and in LaSala in the University Center Building (UCB).

At the Downtown Phoenix campus, activities will take place in the Civic Space Park and will include cultural performances and on-hand legal aid, tax and financial assistance, and information on community services available to families.

“Border issues are important and misunderstood in this region,” Wallinger said. “Lots of people don’t understand family unification issues; the issues involving families separated by the border. Family members can’t move freely across the border, or they do so with difficulty, at best. The families would much rather be together at home; family members don’t leave their families to stay here.

“The issues should be about the people, not laws. I’m not talking about a so-called lawless society, but you have to find a fair and compassionate way of dealing with transborder family issues.”

Wallinger has lived social justice and human rights issues since she graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and political science from Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg, Va., in 2002.  She served two years in the Peace Corps in Mongolia where she taught English as a second language and also worked to improve the life and decision-making skills of her students. She has also worked as a counselor at a wilderness camp for troubled and at-risk youths. Upon her graduation from ASU’s New College, Wallinger hopes to continue her current internship with ALERT (Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking), a program of the International rescue Committee, where she works to help provide aid and support victims of trafficking.

In the meantime, her energy is focused on the “Families, Justice and the Border” event next month.

“The event is designed by students and faculty in the social justice and human rights degree program to capture people’s interest in border-related family issues,” she said. “We live in a culturally diverse area and we need to look at the options they have to enjoy that diversity. We hope to get people thinking about their commonalities, not their differences.”

For more information, contact Carrie Wallinger at