Cubs have been given the opportunity to speak with California Senators about advocacy and core issues within the Los Angeles community. Several students volunteered or were chosen to participate in the program, partnering with Jesuit West CORE team. They will be meeting with California State Senator Alex Padilla in March to discuss many local issues specifically revolving around sustainable investment, COVID-19 relief protocols and immigration-support for refugees in California.
Director of Center for Service and Justice Dr. Jesse Rodriguez, the main Loyola coordinator of the program, said, “The month of March is slated by the Ignatian solidarity network as advocacy month, allowing Jesuit schools to engage in different advocacy work. Oftentimes the advocacy work pertains to issues that the Ignatian Solidarity networks hone in on.”
This opportunity will be run through Jesuit West, an Ignatian solidarity network which consists of many Jesuit schools that collaborate for racial equality. This network includes many social groups and churches that are affiliated with the Jesuit order. Leaders of this Jesuit West province have helped train and engage the students on improved advocacy.
Rodriguez remarked, “Being on the West Coast, we are a part of the province, Jesuit West. We have leaders in the province who engage our students and teach them about advocacy. One of the greatest tools that we can use is our Ignatian family.”
One of the crucial issues being discussed is the importance of COVID-19 economic relief in the city of Los Angeles, focusing on the distribution of funding for education, housing and other public services. Cubs congregated within breakout rooms on Zoom to discuss the disparities between different communities and what the government can do to aid those in need. Specifically, they will be analyzing the differences in the availability of resources and finances between distinct regions in LA County.
Brody Hannon, a Junior involved in the meetings, stated, “We at Loyola have been fortunate to have stable wifi and computers, but at many LAUSD schools are struggling to keep their heads above the water.”
The second core issue discussed at the meetings was the importance of immigration policies within LA County. Senior Donoven McAlister played a major role in talking about Los Angeles’ foreign policy when dealing with issues on immigration. He specifically worked with the women from the St. Ignatius School in San Francisco.
Hannon stated, “Specifically on the issue of immigration, we are looking for better support systems for Dreamers and refugees as well as an easier pathway to citizenship.”
The Jesuit West CA-IFAM team represents over 40,000 people in the Los Angeles area. Their diverse collective power provides a voice for the people who want to connect with California Senators and inform them of the important issues that the various LA communities face.
Junior Lucas Ibarra, who is also a part of the program, stated, “Connecting with other schools and collaborating to discuss important issues that our Los Angeles community faces is extremely important. I encourage all cubs to participate in advocacy work with Ignatian solidarity networks. These programs not only introduce students to the importance of planning agendas, but they also allow students to further their own knowledge about impactful current events that all people should be educated on.”
Many students were hopeful that through these meetings they would become adept in the use of rhetoric pertaining to advocacy.
Rodriguez said, “Improved Advocacy comes from an examination of what truly matters to ourselves and where our interests lie. The examination of the inner self is a constant theme within the Jesuit ideology, as we are always told to observe how God has impacted us on a daily basis and what is God calling us to do.”
Provincial Reverend Scott Santarosa, SJ, who is a supporter of the Jesuit West CORE team, said, “Are there enough injustices against the people we love to consider flexing our Jesuit muscle again and regularly? The beloved is there before us: the immigrant, the gang member, the hungry, the incarcerated, the single mother separated from her deported husband. Are we offering to the beloved all the gifts we are truly in possession of? Can we also offer our power?”