Sanctuary campus eyed at WCU
Petition started in response to President-elect Trump’s comments pertaining to deportation of undocumented workers
WEST CHESTER >> An open letter to West Chester University asking the administration to designate the university as a “sanctuary campus,” circulated on social media last week, collecting almost 300 supporters.
Nadine Bean, a university professor with a doctorate in social work, along with several other university faculty, started the petition in response to Presidentelect Donald Trump’s comments pertaining to deportation of undocumented workers.
“I have always been a social activist,” Bean said. “I think we should reaffirm West Chester University’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”
She said the petition and accompanying letter has close to 300 supporters, and that she penned the letter.
In addition to declaring the university a sanctuary campus for undocumented individuals, the letter also asks university officials to refuse to release information regarding a person’s immigration status or to collaborate with immigration officials.
University officials deferred requests for comment to Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
He said some of the points
made in the letter, such as preventing federal immigration agencies from coming onto campus, would appear
to violate the law.
“The petition really wouldn’t have an effect,” Marshall said. “We would expect our campuses to follow the law.”
When asked if students have previously been deported from the university
because of their immigration status, Bean said she was not aware of any specific incidents.
She did say, however, that there are students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and that some students
in her class are concerned about what a Trump presidency will mean for them.
DACA is program that allows children brought to the country illegally to defer deportation, if they met certain criteria. Trump has promised he would end the program.
West Chester University has about 16,000 students.
Across the nation, other universities have also seen similar activity. In Delaware County, hundreds of students at Swarthmore
College rallied to support academic institutions becoming sanctuary campuses, the Delaware County Daily Times reported.
The University of Pennsylvania has likewise received a similar petition and letter.
Zoe Samudzi, a doctoral student studying sociology at the University of California, San Francisco, created a Facebook page that, in her own words, serves as a hub for news and updates regarding sanctuary schools and cities.
Samudzi said about 140 schools have received petitions requesting some action to become a sanctuary
campus, and said the movement started at Pomona College in Claremont, California after Trump was announced as the presidentelect.
In order to document the movement, several publicly accessible documents have been made tracking the sanctuary status at each university, including a spreadsheet and map.
“The objective of the movement is not symbolic support for the idea of sanctuary schools,” Samudzi said, “but also a dedicated policy of non-cooperation with federal immigration officials and non-compliance with laws surrounding deportations.