Letter: I don’t feel safe at Iowa State


Max Goldberg/Iowa State Daily

Jovani Rubio, senior in mechanical engineering, holds up a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. during a multicultural open forum Sept. 14. The sign was ripped by a woman Saturday during protest against Donald Trump. 

Coming to Iowa State, I thought I was going to be accepted.

Iowa State gave me a scholarship to come here, however, that same scholarship also marked me as different. One of the things I got a lot was, “You only received that scholarship because you are a minority Mexican.” Those same people didn’t know that I was a Junior ROTC raider and a member of the wrestling team. I graduated high school with a 3.2 GPA — even after working 40-hour weeks.

But through it all, I came to Iowa State with a smile on my face and determination that would help me prosper and face any obstacle. But, when I got here, I was told from my academic adviser during freshman orientation, “Well, you come from a bad high school, and your ACT scores are very low, so your chances of being able to succeed in engineering are very low. So what we will do is put you in easy classes this semester, or else you will probably fail out after the first semester.”

Although this moment began my adventure at Iowa State, it did not finish it. I went ahead and ignored my adviser’s great advice, placed myself in higher-level classes and finished my first semester with almost a 3.0.

Weeks after this incident, I befriended a group of international students from China, and, after a filling meal at the Union Drive Community Center, we decided it would be a good idea to walk back to Wallace and Wilson towers. Halfway back to the Towers, people in cars and on the street shouted racist slurs, some of which included the F-word.

To me, this was something that was totally new. When we got back to the Towers, I asked my friends if this was something that they were OK with, because they kept their composure. They replied that those type of things happen to them all the time.

Although this occurred my freshmen year, it did not end there.

Weeks into my senior year, a professor in the math department spoke about an issue that I was very familiar with. The professor, who previously worked at the Department of Transportation, described an instance the department decided against not to provide licenses for undocumented immigrants.

As he spoke, he used the term “illegal” very loosely when referring to the undocumented immigrants. The use of the term “illegal” describing a person is offensive. The action of coming to this country without documentation is illegal.

After this, the professor said, “Although I filed to dismiss the case and was successful, I truly don’t understand how they would have defended themselves if they were illegal had this case gone to trial. I could have just called [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] and had them all deported.”

It was at this point that the entire classroom burst into laughter, and I was left in complete shock.

These issues are the reasons why we, as multicultural students, do not feel safe on Iowa State’s campus. I don’t feel safe at Iowa State.

I participated in the protest against Donald Trump and have since been targeted as the poster child of the event. The community has reached out to me for statements on how I was able to hold my composure that day and why I didn’t react negatively when the woman ripped my poster.

My reply to them is simple: If I would have responded how she wanted me to, then I only would have been confirming their negative stereotypes. This is the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that I silently stood with at the Cy-Hawk protest: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan military and political leader, once said, “En la unión está la fuerza.” Translation: “In unity there is strength.” 

You can no longer silence our voices because now we stand united.