Sanc­tu­ary cam­pus eyed at WCU

Pe­ti­tion started in re­sponse to Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s com­ments pertaining to de­por­ta­tion of un­doc­u­mented work­ers

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @afarence on Twit­ter

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.

Na­tion­wide move­ment

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.

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