On April 15 Ursinus College YAL held Incarceration Nation on campus. Many members got involved with preparing for the event. We took a night out to go shopping at Home Depot and Target for supplies. Another night was dedicated to constructing the jail and painting it. The last night before the event was dedicated to addressing our plan tabling and creating posters that would add to all the great supplies provided by YAL.
The day of the event was a huge success! We generated more sign-ups, had 40+ students take pictures in our jail, and we had all 50 postcards for fixing the system filled out. Our many pictures in the jail contributed to this collage:
It was a beautiful day outside and many students also walked past our table and took the pamphlets provided by YAL. We made a huge difference that day and brought serious attention to the high incarceration rates in the USA.
That night we held a documentary screening of the Weldon Angelos story. It showed how the drug war can affect an individual family negatively. The discussion after the viewing was fruitful. Students at Ursinus have a unique view of the drug war because of our first year class CIE, the Common Intellectual Experience. The course revolves around three questions, "What does it mean to be human?", "What is our place in the Universe?", and "How should we live our lives?"
The course is required for all first year students and is a 2 semester experience. The second semester focuses on readings that are about how humans interact with one another. It focuses on authors such as John Locke, Karl Marx, Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Adam Smith, and Michelle Alexander. Michelle Alexander wrote "The New Jim Crow" which focuses on the implications of the drug war.
She points out that the drug war is unethical because it jails people who commit crimes where there is no victim. It not only points this out, but it explores how the system has racial implications. The drug war unfairly affects males and minorities. Michele Alexander makes the argument that the current drug laws are just as detrimental to black Americans as the Jim Crow laws were.
Ursinus students already have a perspective on the drug war which enabled us to have a great discussion the night of the documentary. We all agreed we need to #FixTheSystem.