Some Ask That Emory University Become a Sanctuary Campus for Undocumented Students

A letter sent to the administration of Emory University in response to the election of Donald J. Trump asks the private school to provide additional resources for undocumented students, and asks for policies that would, in effect, turn Emory into a sanctuary campus. The letter has been signed by 17 campus organizations, along with over 700 students and 100 faculty members.

The letter describes the concern of its signatories that President Trump might discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows persons brought to the country illegally as children to obtain work permits. A scholarship program begun by Emory in 2015 allows these students to receive needs based financial aid, and, according to the letter, many participants in the DACA program now study at Emory.

The letter makes nine demands of the university in response. Several would offer a level of protection for undocumented students, including prohibiting agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement from entering campus property, prohibiting the release by the university of information concerning the citizenship status of students, and providing legal and mental health support for undocumented students.

The letter also asks for formal statements on behalf of the university expressing that immigration enforcement actions will not take place on campus, and that the practice of admitting undocumented students will continue in the future.

In addition to providing resources for undocumented students to continue with their Emory education, the letter asks that the university add coursework related to the “undocumented experience,” including courses in ethnicicity, gender studies, sexuality studies, and migration. The letter says that these new courses should be taught by “tenured faculty of color.”

The letter asks for a detailed response to the demands by December 2nd, and concludes with:

Together, these demands are in line with Emory’s tradition of inclusion and diversity and its core duty to protect its members from harm. Moreover, these demands are consistent with demands made to administrators at institutions like Stanford, Stony Brook, Depaul, Rutgers, and Boston Universities. We also remind you that undocumented individuals live among us, contribute to our community, and participate in intellectual life at Emory and beyond.

The three administrators to whom the letter was addressed, including President Claire E. Sterk; Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Stuart Zola; and Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life; responded with a letter of their own, promising to meet with students to discuss their concerns:

In the coming weeks, Emory’s senior leadership will be assessing your letter, and evaluating how best to serve those in our community whose immigration status puts them at risk. We ask that you recommend to Dean Ajay Nair community members from your coalition to work with our leadership team. Please try to keep the number of representatives to a small number so we can meet expeditiously.


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