Students and faculty sign petition for sanctuary campus

Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 11:54pm

A group of students and faculty signed an open letter that introduced a petition moving to make the University of Michigan a sanctuary campus and sent it to University officials early Friday morning.

In an email to University President Mark Schlissel and Provost Martha Pollack, LSA sophomore Gabriel Canter introduced the petition and requested a meeting to further discuss the issues. Canter described the aim of this mobilization as way to protect students he feels may be at risk.

"(The signed group is) concerned for our undocumented and DACA-mented classmates and students at the University of Michigan,” Canter wrote. “As you know, current political events raise questions about the future of the DACA program and immigration policy.”

The petition was written in response to an incident on campus in November when flyers that encouraged students to anonymously report individuals to Immigration and Customs Enforcement were found. Additionally, protesters marched this week in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump's immigration plans. 

According to the petition, the proposed policies aim to create a more inclusive and safer campus for all students as they pursue their studies, additionally demanding that ICE not be present on campus.  

“The University of Michigan must make it clear, now, that ICE does not belong on our campus, and a person’s immigration status is a private matter,” the petition reads. “We ask the University to take the lead in protecting members of our community from unfair intimidation, investigation, and detention, as well as unfair prosecution.”

According to Rackham student Amelia Frank-Vitale, the petition reached 1,000 signatures in the first week. It has now been signed by over 2,500 undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members.

Frank-Vitale, a member of the group that wrote the letter, wrote in an email interview with the Daily she believed in the petition because of how important she believes accessibility of education is.

“I think students who are immigrants, or whose family are immigrants, should be able to focus on their studies,” Frank-Vitale wrote. “I think everyone should have access to education, and when we are in the classroom, immigration status shouldn't be an issue. We should be focused on ideas and learning, and the University should protect what is, I think, that higher mission.”

Education junior Arianna Dixon wrote in an email  she believes the University needs to take action to ensure the safety of students.

“It is a key aspect in getting concrete declarations to make our campus a sanctuary campus for our undocumented and DACA-mented students,” she wrote. “We want to make sure that all of our fellow students here at the University are safe so that they can continue to learn in this community that they are a key part of.”

The petition is not the only measure that has been taken in favor of undocumented students on campus. This past December, the Central Student Government passed a resolution in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, students protected by DACA and undocumented students.

According to Canter, if action is to be taken by administrators, the University will join the University of California system, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University in publically committing to policies that support undocumented students.