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November 28, 2016

Faculty Coalition Group Organizes to Protect Undocumented Students

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Around 100 faculty members formed the Cornell Coalition for Inclusive Democracy last Monday, hoping to advance a petition to make the University a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, according to the coalition’s media representatives.

Prof. Aziz Rana, law — who heads the coalition’s Legal and Policy Working Group — explained that the coalition, primarily composed of Cornell faculty, was the result of a widespread desire to make the sanctuary petition more “cross campus.”

“The initial main petition was an effort that predated the formation of the coalition,” Rana said. “The members also thought it was essential to provide the main sanctuary petition with as much support as possible, both in terms of publicizing it and ensuring that there were other complementary statements and letters.”

Rana said he views sanctuary petitions, which have surfaced on campuses around the Ivy League, as appeals to universities’ values of “openness as a center of education and learning” and “commitment to anti-discrimination and egalitarian principles.”

“What all of [the petitions] are calling for is for these universities to stand by their own principles and, specifically in the context of undocumented students, to ensure that undocumented students are able to continue to study without fear of deportation or threat posed by the government,” he said.

Rana also addressed questions on the legal feasibility of forming sanctuary campuses, specifically at private universities, where several colleges have been hesitant to commit to resisting federal mandates. In a statement, Brown University administrators said they did not have the ability to provide students with full legal protection, while Columbia University pledged to resist immigration officials’ investigations if they had not obtained a subpoena or warrant.

Cornell’s Coalition for Inclusive Democracy plans to request that the administration decline to “actively cooperate” with efforts to deport students, although it is unclear what actions the University could take if pressured by a subpoena or warrant, according to Rana.

The widespread inconsistency in campus responses to sanctuary requests stems from uncertainty “about how far the university can actually go in resisting laws that come down,” according to Rana.

“The way that I read the Brown position was basically that they’re going to do everything they can to the extent within the legal means they have,” he said. “But they’re noting that if the government were to actually give warrants they might be limited in what they can do within the law.”

Disparate responses from universities are also attributable to uncertainty about how forceful the impending Trump administration will be in rolling back DACA protections, Rana said.

“Right now the picture remains pretty unclear exactly how aggressive the government is going to be in attempting to force the universities to cooperate, and that’s where the issue gets a little bit dicier,” Rana said.

However, Rana stressed that despite this hesitation, many university presidents have shown support for upholding DACA and protecting undocumented students. He also expressed his hope that national resistance to deportation efforts, even in the face of warrants, could create “real political pressure” on the government.

While Interim President Hunter Rawlings also released a statement Tuesday affirming the University’s support for undocumented students, the sanctuary petition’s organizers have not yet officially presented the document to the administration, according to media representatives.

“We are still seeking to meet with President Rawlings and present the petition with over two thousand signatures supporting our request,” they said.

  • ……………

    so why should you keep your federal funding again?

  • borris batanov

    The Obama-Clinton government vetted and in 2014 admitted into the US Abdul Razaq Ali Artan from Pakistan, who today carried out a terrorist attack against Americans on the Ohio State campus, sending 10 to the hospital. Although it’s too early to know exactly what his motives were, he ranted on social media that he felt Americans looked at him askance for being Muslim and made him feel ostracized for praying to Allah.

    Repeat, this man was both legally admitted AND vetted by the Obama-Clinton government. And yet here the Progressive ideologues of the Cornell administration want to blindly shelter immigrants who are neither legal nor vetted. The stupidity, arrogance and self-righteousness of these Progressive ideologues would be funny, if they weren’t endangering the lives of others.

    • Cu

      Thank you. Universities seem to be trying too hard to bend reality to fit pre-conceived notions. Cornell has recently been visited by one data point in a huge data set of black on black violence and Ohio State has apparently been visited by one instance of jihadi violence. Why is it racist or bigoted to want to protect our students from these problems? Are they not true problems? Instead of believing our lying eyes, we instead focus on imagined (except in rare circumstances) threats from the police and focus on protecting undocumented residents. Maybe leaders are afraid of what happened to IC president happening to them (or maybe IC president was truly horrible – I do not know.).

    • AJ

      For all the talk of safe places in our universities and attempts to protect students from spoken words that are opposite of their own sheltered beliefs, Ohio State university failed to protect their students from an act of violence today. This despite OSU, like many universities, having an ever increasing number of highly paid administrators and professors. It has been reported that Ohio State University had 11 employees make more than 1 million dollars in total compensation last year, 110 employees earn more than 500K, 781 employees earn more than 250K, and more than 4800 employees earn more than 100K in total compensation. Perhaps instead of concentrating on providing safety from the free exchange of ideas, this army of highly paid individuals could instead concentrate on safeguarding the physical well-being of their students. And hopefully Cornell’s own army of “well” paid staff will concentrate on doing the same.