After Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed at a Hamilton show, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted asking that theatre should be a safe space – however, the President-elect clearly does not believe in safe spaces in any other context. Trump denounced sanctuary cities – safe spaces where immigrants would not be persecuted and hunted down – shortly before election day in a speech where he promised to take federal funding for cities that refuse to work with him to hunt down illegal immigrants.
So far there has been no word on sanctuary schools, but, as an opposer of safe spaces only in places where his violent, harmful, rhetoric is not allowed to be spewed onto others, it’s safe to say that Trump does not support them. Turning New College into a sanctuary school would protect students from racist immigration policies, and would also show that we as a school do not stand with Trump and hypocritical anti-safe-space policies.
As of mid afternoon on Nov. 26, 726 people had signed a petition that had been floating around the forum which showed their support for turning New College into a sanctuary school.
The petition calls for New College to protect students who are affected by Trump’s anti-immigration policies based on a 2011 memo from the U.S. immigrations and customs agency. The memo calls out schools as being a sensitive place where to arrests, interviews, searches and surveillance for the purpose of immigration services should not take place.
The petition then calls for New College to refuse to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to refuse to release information about immigration status about any student to a government agency, create a program for undocumented students to receive counsel and protect deferred action childhood arrival (DACA) scholarships to make sure that students receive these funds even if the program is rescinded under a Trump presidency.
Across the country other schools have adopted policies similar to those outlined in the petition. California State University’s chancellor, Timothy P. White, publically stated that Cal State would not tolerate anti-immigration policies put forth by right wing officials.
“[Cal State] will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law,” White told The Los Angeles Times. “Our police departments will not honor immigration hold requests. Our university police do not contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being… a person that lacks documentation.”
Wesleyan University in Connecticut has recently declared itself a sanctuary school, according to The Hartford Courant. On Tuesday Nov. 22, University President Michael Roth told the Hartford Courant, “[If Immigration officials came onto campus] We would go to court and say where is the legal authority? We would not just cooperate… Not that this place is a place to hide, but a place where faculty, students and staff can have their information protected.”
There has been increased pressure on other schools to follow this lead and declare themselves sanctuary schools. Protests have broke out at Yale, Harvard and Duke University to put pressures on officials to publicly name their schools sanctuary schools.
The petition circulating the forum to make New College a sanctuary school uses New College’s public status as a unique opportunity to protect students who may be undocumented or feel attacked because of racist, anti immigration politics. The petition takes very little time to read, and sign. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and other community members can sign the petition to show that they stand with these efforts to protect students and against Donald Trump’s anti-safe space rhetoric.