Beloit College Students Gain Insight on Complex Immigration Issues

Posted on May 9, 2019 | Chloe Jo and Josh Randolph, Beloit College

Latino/a Advocacy Day in Denver, CO

Using the lens of human rights and social justice, the Weissberg Program in Human Rights and Social Justice at Beloit College inspires and empowers students to take informed action to address complex global problems.

As a “Bomb Cyclone” storm system was bearing down on Colorado in March 2019, Superior Murphy, a sophomore at Beloit College in Wisconsin, headed west in a rented van with eleven of her classmates. It was spring break, and instead of taking time to relax and unwind, these students were gearing up to explore how US immigration policy plays out in the state of Colorado.

This student-initiated “Immigration Awareness Trip” to the Denver area was sponsored by the Weissberg Program in Human Rights and Social Justice at Beloit College. From March 10 to 15, the students visited non-profit organizations, including Casa de Paz, Asian Pacific Development Center, and Centro Humanitario to explore their differing approaches to addressing immigration questions from health care and well-being to labor rights protection. The students also spent time talking with legislators and lobbyists to get a sense of immigration policy in Colorado and participated in a Latino/a Advocacy Day.

“It was eye-opening to see how multifaceted issues around immigration are,” said junior Olivia Brimacombe, one of the student participants. “We were able to speak with people who were doing great things to preserve the safety of people affected by such issues, and it was a great inspiration.”

This is the third year that the Weissberg Program in Human Rights and Social Justice at Beloit College has supported an alternative spring break focusing on immigration issues, previously visiting Arizona and Texas. Each year students come back with stories of life-changing experiences to share with the campus community. Trip leader Murphy has chosen to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer as a result of her experiences on these trips. “I went on last year’s border trip as well, but it was a completely different experience,” she said. “The ways that the progressive legislation in Colorado contrasts to the immigration process in Texas is baffling.”

The Weissberg Program in Human Rights and Social Justice at Beloit College was established by Weissberg Foundation chairman Marvin Weissberg, whose daughter and vice president of the Foundation, Nina Weissberg, attended Beloit College. The Weissberg Program’s mission is to inspire and empower students to take informed action to address complex global problems, using a lens of human rights and social justice. In addition to student activities such as this trip, the program supports independent student projects, career development, faculty development, guest lecturers, and an annual week-long residency on the campus with a leader in human rights and social justice issues. Click here to learn more about the Weissberg Program.


More photos from the Immigration Awareness Trip


Chloe Jo is a sophomore from the Republic of Korea, double-majoring in Sociology and Philosophy. Her research interests include criminal justice law and protecting labor rights intersecting with race and gender. She works with the Weissberg Program in Human Rights and Social Justice as an assistant. She aspires to attain a law degree specializing in public policies and international law.

Josh Randolph is a junior from Grinnell, Iowa, double-majoring in Anthropology and Russian. Their research interests include linguistic and cultural anthropology, with specializations in race, ethnicity, and sexuality. They aspire to receive a PhD in Anthropology.