As you may be aware, recently universities around the country have been discussing whether establishing a campus as a “sanctuary” enhances protections for students. Just two weeks ago, this discussion arose at all public baccalaureates in Washington. The inquiries, including one from CWU, prompted review and discussion by the Attorney General’s Office.
The conclusion of its informal review was that public universities have limited legal authority to unilaterally declare their campuses sanctuaries in defiance of federal law. Further, it is not clear how such defiance might affect receipt of federal funding (e.g. Pell, GEAR-UP, and Perkins), or what the repercussions might be for state funding.
However, CWU already provides a very safe environment for students, thanks to university policies and state law. The recent sanctuary declaration by the University of Oregon promises protections that CWU currently provides:
• We have no legal obligation or affirmative duty to enforce federal immigration law. That is the responsibility of federal law enforcement agencies.
• Our campus police do not question people about their immigration status and do not detain or arrest undocumented persons just because they are undocumented.
• We do not make admissions or other decisions about students based on immigration status, and we do not request immigration documentation (except as needed to determine the eligibility of “HB 1079” students for resident tuition rates).
• We do not volunteer information about students and do not disclose protected information from their student education records, except as required in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order.
• While we protect freedom of speech, sometimes even offensive speech, we do not tolerate unlawful harassment, threats, or hate crimes as defined under our student conduct code or applicable law.
• We welcome and affirm the values of diversity and inclusiveness, as well as the right of all students to be free from unlawful interference with the attainment of their educational goals.
Recently, I joined more than 400 other college and university presidents in signing an open letter calling upon U.S. leaders to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the letter, US presidents urged the nation’s leadership, including the incoming administration, to continue to support DACA, which was created in 2012 and allows undocumented immigrant students to continue their educations without fear of deportation. This is an issue that is important to CWU, to the state of Washington, which has an estimated 17,000 DACA beneficiaries, and to me. CWU is a welcoming place that puts the safety and security of students above all else. That has not changed, nor will it.
Finally, I wanted to congratulate CWU faculty, staff and students; members of the community, and local elected officials who are working so hard to turn speech and acts of hate into opportunities to express unity and inclusion. CWU, Ellensburg, Kittitas County all have endorse unity proclamations. A Wildcat Facebook posting of the City proclamation has now prompted similar action by Clark County, and the cities of Vancouver and Ridgefield. I am humbled and amazed by the way your work has brought people together and is bringing light and hope to our community.
—President James L. Gaudino
December 1, 2016
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