Monday February 27, 2017
Dear Metropolitan State University students, faculty and staff,
In the wake of President Trump's order restricting immigration from seven countries and related immigration actions, the university's President wrote about our plans to lawfully protect information about our students. After visiting with several groups on campus, including the Student Senate, we agreed to provide additional information about community resources available to assist students and employees.
This university joins with others in the higher education community in expressing our concerns with the manner in which the original executive order was implemented. We continue to welcome and support all students on their educational journeys in accordance with our core mission and values that embrace equity and inclusion. The issues associated with the executive order are evolving, and in the weeks and months to come, we will continue to be vigilant in providing information and resources useful to our campus community.
President Arthur asked me to develop a statement that would describe our current climate. In recent weeks, in a variety of meetings, we have learned that some are in fear, some have had their life plans changed and some are uncertain where to turn. I have also been contacted by many individuals and groups comprised of students, faculty and staff expressing both their concerns and their desire to help support others at our institution.
The good news is that at Metropolitan State we work to promote equity and inclusion, and see evidence of the benefits of a richly diverse campus every day. Recognizing that members of an inclusive community will represent differing opinions and commitments on policy matters, I am taking this opportunity to underscore our collective commitment to a learning and work environment that is positive, respectful and professional toward all. Each and every member of our institutional family plays an important role in fulfilling that commitment.
One recent request has to do with establishing what is called a "sanctuary campus." This is a term that has been borrowed from the concept of "sanctuary cities," which pledge to do what they can to protect residents from deportation.
The "sanctuary campus" pledge may convey a false sense of security by seeming to promise that persons will be physically protected from search or apprehension by federal agents.
Rather than further the confusion of the "sanctuary" label, President Arthur has taken the following positions:
- We will fully protect our student record information in compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act;
- We will not turn over student information to immigration enforcement authorities unless required to do so by a subpoena or court order;
- We will not request or gather information about students' citizenship or immigration status in the course of providing educational or other services or in connection with public safety activities, except as required by financial aid or tuition policies;
- If asked to allow immigration authorities to enter campus properties and buildings, we will comply only if a proper court order or warrant is presented;
- We will provide distance-learning options for any student who is deported to support them in completing their degrees.
- We continue to provide support to our immigrant students regarding immigration law and questions about their status at the institution. A practicing immigration law attorney, Mirella Ceja Orozco, was on campus on February 22 to answer questions and to provide assistance as needed. This week, a panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, March 1, at 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall. The panel will provide a historical and analytical understanding of the recent executive order and its impact concerning the lives of students and their families. Future activities and events will likely be organized, including the potential for a unity event. Many students are asking for private gatherings rather than public events so that they may feel secure in expressing their concerns.
Below, please find a list of other resources that we have recently gathered. Other information of importance to students, faculty and staff will be provided in the coming weeks, as well as information about conferences and meetings made available for critical institutional discussions and to allow individuals to learn and express their feelings and viewpoints. This information will be posted to the Equal Opportunity and Diversity web page.
Finally, I encourage any person who wishes to seek a safe space for private conversation to please contact my office or to speak with any administrator of the institution.
On behalf of President Arthur and President's Executive Council,
Chief Diversity Officer