Michael Li / Sun Staff Photographer

Interim President Hunter Rawlings said Cornell is committed to supporting its undocumented students.

January 31, 2017

Faculty Encouraged by Rawlings’ Statement, Hope for Specific Policies

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Interim President Hunter Rawlings’ response to President Trump’s executive order was encouraging for many Cornell faculty members, but they are hoping for more specific policies.

“Rawlings’ announcement is a good first step towards protecting all immigrant students on this campus who are targeted by the new federal administration’s immigration policies,” said Prof. Shannon Gleeson, industrial labor relations.

Gleeson was a key draftee of a letter sent to Senior Vice Provost Barbara Knuth that detailed faculty concern for “the procedure of financial aid for undocumented students.”

The letter, with 76 signatories of primarily professors and administrators, urged University Admissions and Financial Aid to adopt methods to fund Deferred Action Childhood Arrival students through “nonfederal money.”

Though supportive of Rawlings’ statement, Gleeson said she was concerned by the lack of specific language in the announcement.

“[The announcement] falls short of some key concrete policies, including complying with in-state tuition policies for contract college students who are N.Y. state residents, and making funding commitments for all qualified undocumented students,” Gleeson said.

Prof. Aziz Rana, law, was “heartened” by Rawlings’ response, but also desired a clear action plan.

“I’m really glad that Rawlings has made this pledge,” Rana said. “The goal now is to flesh out sustained policy.”

Rana sent a letter to Rawlings and incoming President Martha Pollack, calling for Cornell to “pursue a number of concrete steps to preserve Cornell’s values.”

These steps include “[continuing] to solicit and process applications from the affected countries, [assisting] students and scholars fleeing dangerous conditions and [preparing] applicants for [visa] screening processes.”

“These are three specific issues that are really important for our University to be thinking about,” Rana said.

The 131 signees of the letter also hoped “to meet with administration to give some additional specificity” to Rawlings’ statement.

“It’s important to us that the University doesn’t shift policy in order to comply with the order,” Rana said.

Gleeson echoed Rana’s sentiments on the issue and called for action “consistent with our university’s values.”

“I absolutely hope that we will take bold leadership to protect immigrants on our campus and the broader community we touch, and advocate at the state and national level for the same,” Gleeson said.