Urbana Celebrates Student Press Freedom Day
By Laura Santos, Daniela López, and Gabriela Vilas
Photo credits to StudentPressFreedom.org
February 26th, 2021 at 7:00 P.M. EST.
Freedom of expression is one of the main foundations on which Urbana was built. The ability to provide a space in which students are not only free but encouraged to share their opinions and present their points-of-view is something that makes us proud. Therefore, we also emphasize the importance of listening to others with an open mind and heart, avoiding prejudice, and always preventing our own biases from overshadowing our critical judgment.
Most of our staff have emigrated from different countries where freedom of speech and press are compromised and undermined by the government; thus, we consider our magazine the platform on which we all can raise our voices. Being able to express oneself without fear of reprisals by administration or persecution by authorities provides comfort to the artistic and journalistic endeavors of our community. Hence, as a publication, we aim to inform and reflect on issues in countries or communities where such freedoms do not exit. Through our podcast, blog, and social media, and our creative pieces, we denounce social injustices and raise awareness about human rights violations.
On December 5th, 2020, some staff members participated in the vigil organized by Florida students at Miami Freedom Tower to support the Movimiento San Isidro (MSI). This movement originated the Cuban government passed Law 349, increasing restrictions and censorship of artistic works, freedom of expression, and thought. As a literary and arts magazine that promotes freedom of speech and artistic expression on our campus, we demonstrated our support and empathy towards the (MSI) by sharing and educating our audience about the movement and ways to support it. Furthermore, in his opinion piece about the vigil published in our blog, Matthew Jimenez shared his wishes for his homeland to be free of oppression and his continuous commitment to the cause.
Our position towards censorship of any kind is clear. We are against turning off the voices of those whose message is uncomfortable to hear. As long as violence is not instigated, everyone has the right to express their opinion, and no one should be dehumanized or ridiculed for it. Thus, we do not support the dominance of a prevailing message, but rather the possibility of respectful dialogue between people with diverse contexts, backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking.
Gabriela Vilas is a second-year student majoring in business administration at the Honors College Dual Language program at Eduardo J. Padrón Campus. She is currently Urbana’s media manager for its volume XIV and vice-president of Fellowship and Service of the Beta Kappa Iota Chapter from Phi Theta Kappa Iota. She has a goal to double major in business administration and international relations to create her own NGO that could treat FGM’s victims and spread human rights education to different communities around the globe. During her free time, she enjoys practicing guitar, photography, and editing videos on Adobe PremierePro.
Laura Santos is currently the co-editor-in-chief for Urbana Volume XIV and former editor and layout designer for Volume XIII. She is a first-generation immigrant originally from Honduras who has a deep passion for challenging the status quo and improving her community. As an orphan who migrated to the United States in 2014, she holds deep interest in social policy. Thus, she is pursuing a political science degree at The Honors College at MDC with the ultimate purpose of becoming involved in policy, journalism, and government affairs. She is an avid fan of MMORPG, "World of Warcraft" and during her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, binge watching historical fiction, and playing video games on either Nintendo Switch or PC.
Daniela Lopez is a psychology major at Miami Dade College, currently in her second year at the Honors College Dual Language program at Eduardo J. Padrón Campus. She is also co-Editor-in-Chief of Urbana Literary & Arts magazine for its volume XIV, as well as the secretary of the recently founded club JapAnime. Her greatest passions consist of spending quality time with her loved ones (including her cat Chessi), reading, consuming audiovisual content, and learning curious psychological facts.