Key info: Come to the steps of Winants Hall Tuesday, Dec 6 at 1:30pm to deliver the Sanctuary Campus petition to the Rutgers Board of Governors, President Barchi, and the Chancellors.
Dear Union Members,
The movement for a Sanctuary Campus has mushroomed across Rutgers and across the country. In the fashion of a sanctuary city, a sanctuary college or university refuses to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with the Department of Homeland Security, or with any agency seeking to detain and deport undocumented students, faculty, or staff. The municipalities of Camden, Newark, New York, and Philadelphia declared themselves to be sanctuaries some time ago. On November 11th, the Rutgers One Coalition – to which the union belonged – issued a call for sanctuary. On November 16, approximately 2000 students and faculty walked out in support of sanctuary and against bigotry. Since that time, 4000 people have signed the 11-point petition asking the administration to declare Rutgers a sanctuary university.
If, three weeks ago, Rutgers was leading the sanctuary movement, other institutions have now overtaken us. In response to pressure from faculty and students, the Presidents of Columbia University and Penn have offered sanctuary to undocumented students. On November 15th, our president Barchi made a statement of support for undocumented students, as well as for anyone threatened by bigotry and hate speech. The three bullet points in his message contain some of the language of a sanctuary campus. Indeed, when faculty in the French Department (NB) sent their endorsement of the 11-point petition to President Barchi, he told the department on 28 November,
“I made these points clear to our entire community in an email on November 15th, which, if you read carefully, you will find covers all the actions you request in your letter.”
So President Barchi may have already declared Rutgers implicitly to be a sanctuary. The question is not clear, and clarity matters a great deal. President Barchi has pledged to protect the identity and records of undocumented students “unless required by law or a court order.” His counterparts at Columbia and Penn made the same pledge, but with a caveat that refers only to court orders, subpoenas, or warrants. In other words, those administrations will refuse government requests for records unless and until the judiciary orders them to comply. The national movement for sanctuary campuses insists upon this higher threshold, as an added measure of protection to students. (As additional points of discrepancy, President Barchi has neither pledged to continue to provide in-state tuition to DACA student nor offered them immigration clinics in New Brunswick and Camden).
So, on December 6th, we will seek clarification from President Barchi and others. Is he willing to declare sanctuary in the full, robust sense? Will he – or Chancellors Cantor, Edwards, or Haddon – refer to their own campuses as “sanctuaries”? That word matters: in the rhetoric for and against the enrollment of undocumented students, “sanctuary” conveys the full weight of protection by administrators, faculty, and other students.
And the issue not merely symbolic or partisan. High school seniors in New Jersey are now applying for admission to Rutgers. Undocumented students qualifying under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) have availed themselves of in-state tuition, arrived at Rutgers, taken our classes, and otherwise enriched Rutgers as a diverse learning community. By enrolling in this way, these individuals have “come out of the shadows,” identifying themselves to the Admissions Office as undocumented. Now, many fear deportation and would go back into the shadows of anonymity if they could. The declaration of sanctuary would dispel much of that fear. Even more importantly, it would re-establish Rutgers as a campus open to prospective DACA students. Without declaration of “sanctuary,” in other words, few or no undocumented, college-bound women and men will take the risk of applying to Rutgers. In this climate, I certainly would not.
Therefore, we need “Sanctuary” in order to keep Rutgers as we love it and as it currently is: a place open to all who wish to challenge themselves amid new ideas in the community with students of color, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ students, women, and men. “Sanctuary” is who we are. Please help us show that on the steps of Winants Hall tomorrow at 1:30.
David and Deepa
David M. Hughes
Professor of Anthropology
President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union
Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies
Vice-President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union