Founder’s Day is celebrated yearly to honor the memory of Sister Ursula Infante and her life-long commitment to educating the community about social justice. Founder’s Day was held with special guest speaker Jim Claffey on Thursday, Feb. 17, in the Grace Hall Atrium. This year’s theme was “Immigration and the American Dream: a Tale of Two Long Islands.”
President Dr. Antoinette Iadarola started the afternoon with a speech remembering the founding president. She joked that her and Sister Infante “saw eye to eye together” because they were both the same height.
She talked about Sister Infante’s passion for teaching students education of the heart. “She wanted students to live lives of dignity and purpose…a life worth living,” Iadarola said. She wanted to give the students of Cabrini College a practical education, one that they can “learn by doing.”
Jim Claffey, a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, talked about his experiences with immigration in and outside of the United States. He said that immigrants come to America for the chance at a better life. Immigration is such a heated debate today that it is very hard to propose a real solution.
His presentation included the film “Farmingville,” which is about a town in Long Island that had an influx of immigrants in the ’90s. It depicted the harsh treatment and life in which day laborers must live.
Colleen Bowman, a junior business administration major, said, “The film opened my eyes to what it would be like in their shoes. It was frightening.”
He said the process for citizenship is so long and inefficient that it makes it impossible for immigrant to obtain a green card. The immigrants in the movie only came to Farmingville for work, but they were met with prejudice and violence by the residents living there. Claffey said that the U.S. desires these day laborers and without them our economy would be in huge trouble. “We need their labor, but no one wants to see them,” he said.
Claffey proposed solutions to help immigrants become better assimilated in the U.S. and challenged the audience to practice one of Cabrini’s core values, diversity. He wants students to go learn another language and travel beyond a resort hotel to the real villages of different countries. He said, “We must speak out every time we see abuse against another human being, there should be zero tolerance.”
Phil Nicolo, a sophomore criminal justice and sociology major, said, “It is important to realize that everyone should be given a fair chance at making a life for themselves. Immigrants need our support because they are trying to obtain a better life.”
Posted to the web by Shawn Rice