The University Assembly discussed a resolution requesting that the University become a sanctuary campus and protect undocumented students from deportation at its meeting Tuesday. The U.A. plans to hold a vote by mail on this resolution before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated in January.
Over 15 Cornell departments, programs and assemblies have released statements supporting undocumented students, following publication of a petition published on Nov. 18. The document was delivered to President Hunter Rawlings on Tuesday with 2,264 signatures, according to Edward Baptist, executive vice chair of the U.A.
Mitchell McBride ’17, Student Assembly representative, warned that creating a sanctuary campus “could put up a flag in the attorney general’s office that we have undocumented students here.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. “We’re already providing counseling services, but we shouldn’t be focusing our resources on providing legal services as well.”
Kevin Fitch, vice chair for internal operation, disagreed, saying providing legal services to students would not be an “unprecedented step.”
Fitch furthered his argument by emphasizing Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s ’09 commitment to protecting those who do not have full legal protection under the law or live in Ithaca without documentation.
“Any effort to deport 11 million people, ban members of any religion from entering the United States, restrict a woman’s right to chose, remove the right of LGBTQ Americans to live freely — I will fight to my last breath,” Myrick said in a Nov. 11 Facebook post.
Ulysses Smith, Employee Assembly chair, also advocated for the sanctuary campus, saying that the administration has “already demonstrated its support [for undocumented students].”
“When we accept students, we want to set a goal and a standard for better global citizens for this community,” he said. “We can’t recruit people and not provide them the resources they need to succeed when they get here.”
During talk of the presidential election, Smith stressed the need to learn how “to be respectful of all the opinions.” The University has received 14 reports of hate crimes related to the election, ranging from “sideways comments to vandalism and physical attacks,” according to Smith.
“In many cases, many [students] are thousands of miles away from home, even domestically, so for us to quickly turn our backs on them is disheartening,” he said. “We are accepting and that is part of our institution’s principles.”
The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly passed a resolution in support of this petition at its Nov. 21 meeting, and the Student Assembly and Faculty Senate will consider similar resolutions at their upcoming meetings.
The U.A. also passed a resolution endorsing the mayor’s The Ithaca Plan to address opiate addiction in Ithaca.