Princeton service groups present immigrant rights due to recent policy changes:On November 1, Elisa Neira and Adriana Abizadeh, the respective Executive Directors of Princeton Human Services and the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, visited PHS to inform immigrant students about their rights as citizens and contributors towards the United States. The event was organized in conjunction with Karen Gates, an ESL teacher at PHS.
One point of discussion within the presentation was the idea of wage theft. This occurs when employers take advantage of employees’ rights, by not paying employees minimum wage or making them work overtime. Neira acknowledged that there are PHS students who work jobs outside of school but touched upon the idea that immigrant students are especially susceptible to wage theft. The discussion aimed to provide students with knowledge of their rights as employees and where to seek help in case they’ve been a victim of wage theft.
“As a town, we do feel like under the current administration, a lot of immigrant groups are under attack … [and] we worry about the trickle-down effect of policies that will essentially break families apart,” said Neira.
As a result of policy changes directly affecting immigrants, such as Trump’s announcement to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, a program that allows undocumented children to be protected from deportation through a renewable two year period of deferred action, many immigrant advocate groups such as LALDEF are urging communities to provide more resources to immigrant students.
Likewise, the presentation provided an outlet for legal assistance in case these students or their families’ needed guidance regarding immigration. The speakers informed the students about their rights as residents of Princeton, and let them know that Princeton is a welcoming community.
“These are people, these are stories,” said Neira. “We appreciate and value the diversity of our community and appreciate the value of the people that have been in our community.”
PHS Asian American Group formed by guidance counselors to encourage discussionGuidance counselors Nipurna Shah and Paul Song have recently formed a new student association known as the PHS Asian American Group. The group discusses topics on various Asian-American cultures, beliefs, and the challenges of juggling American culture while remaining connected to Asian heritage.
The group formed as a result of Shah noticing an increase in the number of Asian-American students sharing their personal struggles with her, and this fostered Shah’s sense of obligation to do something about these complaints.
Shah was further motivated to create the group after attending a graduate course program in which she learned the benefits of group counseling, and how sharing collective experiences can impact all of the people involved in the discussion.
“Because [the students are from an] Asian household, with morals and values that their [first-generation] parents brought with them, [and then] go to an American high school, it’s hard sometimes to straddle both worlds,” Shah said.
Being Asian-American herself, Shah was able to identify with her students. Both Shah and Song understand the challenges that the students are facing, and hope to expand this group in order to create a safe environment where everyone is able to discuss their ideas. Currently, the two are planning educational initiatives including hosting guest speakers for students and parents and utilizing a curriculum developed by Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm from Boston University.
Professor Hahm, an Associate Professor of Social Research, has developed a psychoeducational curriculum grounded in a theoretical framework addressing the needs of the Asian-American population and the challenges that come along with being an Asian American. This will be shared with the guidance counselors and they will tailor it to fit PHS students.
In order to establish awareness and outreach within the district community, Shah is also working with Hahm to create student, parent, and faculty forums in order to better increase visibility for Asian-American students.
As of now, Professor Hahm is set to join the group in late winter or early spring. Along with Professor Hahm’s curriculum as a guide, the guidance counselors are also planning to meet with additional educators to help them discuss and analyze Asian-American struggles.
“[The goal of this group is] really just [to] build a sense of unity [by] letting other kids know [that they] are not the only ones facing these “unique” challenges.” Shah said.
Bike-Share Program in PrincetonAs of late March last year, city bikes became available in multiple locations around town, including the Firestone Library, the Princeton University Train Station, and the Princeton Shopping Center. Princeton University’s bike-share program, which is in collaboration with Zagster, a nationwide bike-share provider, was launched to provide riders with access to on-demand transportation around Princeton University’s campus.
Anybody is eligible to join the Princeton bike-share program, not just Princeton University students. Three membership options are available: the one-time membership fee of 20 dollars, an hourly rate, or a weekend plan. With the one-time membership, members are able to take free two hour trips, with two dollars for every subsequent hour.
Princeton University and Municipality of Princeton have worked together in order to expand this program by installing more locations around town such as near Richardson Auditorium and Hinds Plaza, as these bikes are also promoted as an alternative to driving.
To use a bike, one must download the Zagster app. After installation of the app, users can choose a bike, find the bike’s number, and enter it into the app for an unlock code. Once they type the code into the keypad on the bike, the ring lock will instantly open, allowing them to use the bike.
Bike riders are able to park their bikes around Princeton by locking it to any Princeton Zagster station or another public rack. These stations are located around the town for facilitation.
Students at PHS have also been able to utilize this new program to their advantage, finding it to be simple and effective.
“Ever since the program was introduced to Princeton, traveling around town has become so much simpler. Biking from my house, which is near the shopping center, to town has never been as convenient it is now,” said Eman Shamshad ’20.