LSU Withdraws Sanctuary Proposal
Lyons clarifies legality with Senate
The Feb. 12 Senate meeting began with a conversation with Chris Davila, the director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on campus, in regards to the anti-immigrant poster posted last week. Shortly after the sit-in for those affected by the immigration ban executive order, an offensive poster was hung up in the student union. Davila was present at the meeting to address the issue, answer questions, and begin the conversation about Senate’s role on campus as representatives and advocates for the entire student body.
After the twenty minute conversation with Davila, the floor turned to three representatives from Latinx Student Union, President Jason Chavez-Cruz, Vice President Ixayana Gonzales, and Secretary Linnea Moore. The three students gave a short presentation proposing the CSS campus should take steps toward becoming a sanctuary campus. According to the presentation, a sanctuary campus is one that adopts policies to protect students who are undocumented. The students went on to present information about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Through DACA, immigrant youth are protected from deportation and given a work permit.
The LSU representatives called attention to the need for action on campus to help affected students. During the campaign, Trump stated his intention to rescind DACA. Currently mass arrests plague the country inciting fear in many citizens. The repeal of DACA would allow mass deportations of students receiving education in the United States. Note that students benefitting from DACA do not receive loans or grants, but pay for their tuition out of pocket. Another result of these incidences is an uprise in racial profiling which targets people who look of Latinx identity. The group proposed to adopt the following resolutions in order for CSS to be named a sanctuary campus:
- Whereas, The Latino Student Union addresses and demands that we treat every human being with dignity and respect.
- Whereas, The College of St. Scholastica needs to attend to the rights our students who are undocumented and their families.
- Whereas, The College of St. Scholastica needs to refuse releasing all voluntary immigration status information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs Border Protection regarding students and their families.
- Whereas, The campus administration must begin the process of making St. Scholastica a sanctuary campus for our undocumented students and their families.
- Whereas, The College of St. Scholastica refuses to allow ICE on our campuses.
- Whereas, The College of St. Scholastica will continue to accept students who are undocumented and will continue to give them the same resources as those who have been here in the past.
- Whereas, The College of St. Scholastica will continue to provide financial aid to the students affected if DACA is repealed.
Senate had a difficult time discussing the issues at hand. The largest issue was not based on the proposal itself, but on whether or not voting should take place during the meeting. Internal Affairs chair, Mark Loscheider was the first to propose a delay in voting on the basis of wanting to consult with the student body. Concerns regarding legal workings and repercussions were also called into question and the train slowly but surely derailed.
Several senators reminded attendees that administration would take into account all necessary conditions, and that this proposal was just to push administration to put their words into action. Vacillations continued with a fair share of democratic heat, and eventually a vote moved to table the official vote to next meeting under the conditions that senators speak with their constituents, not just their friends, and look into the subject more extensively. The vote was tabled to the Feb. 19 meeting, however, LSU withdrew their proposal prior to the meeting.
Steve Lyons, CSS Vice President for Student Affairs started the Feb 19 meeting with a conversation about the legality of sanctuary campuses. He said while the spirit behind the “sanctuary” concept aligns with our Benedictine values, sanctuary status is not legally recognized under federal law.
“Colleges and universities can not set themselves apart from federal law and make promises outside those laws without jeopardy,” said Lyons. “The College of St. Scholastica is committed to providing a safe environment for all students and will continue to do so without a new designation or status that may have unintended consequences.”
He noted this while adding that there is much CSS can do within the law to help vulnerable students. For example, Lyons mentioned all student information is private except for directory information, and the college has expertise in student immigration requirements, personal and academic counseling, and connections to legal resources.