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Make Stony Brook University a sanctuary campus

The main entrance of Stony Brook campus in March 2015. A petition titled “Make SUNY Stony Brook a Sanctuary Campus,” written and signed by professors and students has garnered over 600 signatures and counting. MANJU SHIVACHARAN /STATESMAN FILE

It’s been a full three weeks since Election Day. Yes, three entire weeks. Classes are in full swing and final exams are fast approaching. Many of us are probably struggling to play keep-up with course work, or deciding which classes to enroll in for the spring semester, or taking on internships and research opportunities. These are a few of the many things on our minds as we continue on our journey towards academic achievement and personal growth.

But for some, the results of the election have left them feeling doubtful. They question whether or not they will ever be able to reach their potential because of uncertainty about their futures and their places here on campus and in this country.

I’m talking about the many undocumented students, or DREAMers (a name taken from a proposed piece of legislation called the DREAM Act). They are young people who immigrated to this country as children, who graduated from high school in the United States, who are valuable members of our campus community, and who are every bit American as you and me — save for a piece of paper. These fellow students now fear that they will someday be separated from their family and loved ones as a result of Donald Trump’s promise to repeal president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has provided protection from deportation and temporary work permits for more than 700,000 DREAMers across the country. In a recent 60 Minutes interview Trump said he would also deport 2-3 million immigrants.

Nelson Melgar, a DACA recipient, is a member of the Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates, and he is trying to remain positive.

“I was thirteen when I came here,” Melgar said. “Having DACA is like breathing room. I was able to apply for work, I obtained health insurance. It allows me to be an active participant of society.”

Stony Brook University does not bar undocumented prospective students from enrolling in the university, and over the years, the campus has been home to many of these students. DACA has opened many doors for DREAMers like Melgar, who at twenty-six, has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and has co-founded a Latino civic association group on Long Island.

Trump’s disgusting and racist plan, which openly discriminates against people of color and of certain faiths, should not be tolerated in our country or on our campus. It is morally reprehensible and will erode all of the effort and progress our university has made to become an inclusive and safe place for everyone.

Students and professors are gathering momentum on college campuses all across the country to resist Trump’s threats of deportation and violence towards immigrants and people of color. One step taken by some schools — including Columbia University in New York City, Wesleyan University in Connecticut and all schools in the California State University system — is to become a sanctuary campus. A sanctuary campus could be defined as a university that pledges to protect students and all other members of the campus community from all forms of harassment, intimidation, and hate speech. It would also take steps to protect students from being targeted by immigration officials because they would not be allowed to enter campus and/or the university could refuse to release a student’s immigration status. These actions, which ought to be adopted by the university, would represent a step in the right direction, and are thus things we should strongly consider. It is also apparent that a number of our fellow Seawolves agree with this proposal. A petition titled “Make SUNY Stony Brook a Sanctuary Campus,” written and signed by professors and students, has garnered over 600 signatures and counting.

“We join with a growing number of campus communities across the United States that are calling on their institutions to become ‘sanctuary campuses’ that will protect community members — students, staff and faculty — from intimidation, unfair investigation, deportation,” states the petition, which will be sent to Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. once it collects a thousand signatures. A large number of Americans disagree with Trump’s proposals — he did lose the popular vote, after all — and more than 89 percent of students who voted on campus did not vote for Trump and his policies, according to Vote Everywhere at Stony Brook University. This, however, does not take away from the reality that he is going to become the next president of this country, and so we must face this reality with solutions to proposed plans we disagree with. We should invest in on-campus counseling and psychological services for students undergoing tremendous mental and emotional strains, and we should collaborate with outside nonprofit organizations.

The “Make SUNY Stony Brook a Sanctuary Campus” petition addresses some of the new challenges students might face under a Trump presidency. It proposes creating a specific office in the university to assist DACA and undocumented students on a strictly confidential basis and to schedule a community town hall meeting to “articulate Stony Brook’s commitment to, as articulated in the university’s mission statement, ‘celebrating diversity and positioning the University in the global community.’ ” We must communicate these ideas and concerns not just with President Stanley but with the State University of New York Board of Trustees, they help shape and create SUNY policy.

So, take the time to sign the petition. It’ll only take you less than a minute. Now that it’s been three weeks — yes, three whole entire weeks — since we’ve learned the results of the elections, it’s important that we pick ourselves up and not give into fear. It’s time that we stop looking at this as an abstract issue, but as a real danger, with or without DACA, to undocumented students, staff members and their family members. By making our school a safe, inclusive place for everyone, we are sending a powerful message to Trump and his followers that hate and intimidation have no place at Stony Brook.

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  • A

    Antonio Xu LiuMar 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Anyone know why the google form is no longer active?

    Reply
  • A

    AmbientCloudDec 13, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    You might as well get rid of campus security, and leave all doors unlocked, you know, to promote diversity.

    Reply
  • J

    jimmymacsDec 6, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Yes, my great-great grandparents and their 10 children came to America from Kilmarnock,Scotland in 1832 and settled on land in Vermont bought,sight unseen, from The Scottish American Co. They proceeded to clear the land and establish a homestead and a farm,slowly adding more land as the children grew and needed to earn their own livelihoods. There were no government programs in those days, no low cost loans for businesses, no welfare, no unemployment compensation for the unemployed,no privileges beyond the physical and mental ability to work hard and prevail. Neighbors helped neighbors to survive in a land with often unforgiving weather and no modern conveniences. Horse and oxen power only. No electric, almost non existent medical care, most schooling was grades 1-8 or less. Life was harsh and often short,especially for women who often died in childbirth. Yes, most were white and European but far from being “privileged”. They worked hard,lived diligent lives,encouraged education for their children,built successful villages and towns,farms,and industries. They did not own slaves or support slavery. I do not apologize for my ancestors or harbor any beliefs that my relatives and I are and were “privileged whites”…….Yes, Native Americans are another culture that succumbed to being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the history timeline, like so many others have been. Human history is a long tale of cultures and countries being done in by others who had bigger guns or sharper swords. Nothing new or unique about it. However, it should be noted that some cultures have seemed to bounce back admirably from devastation, Germany and Japan for example,and many others as well.

    Reply
  • B

    bzarDec 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

    How has the SBU administration responded to this? It will be extremely hypocritical if they welcome undocumented immigrants with open arms while attempting to make tobacco users into pariahs.

    Reply
  • J

    jimmymacsDec 2, 2016 at 9:10 am

    What does “undocumented” mean,exactly? I was born and raised in America, and I still must show proof of residency and/or citizenship quite often,for various reasons. People who are living in the United States must have some LEGAL status for being here,even if it is temporary. I very much doubt if Trump or the immigration service is going to deport students who have the proper visas or who came here with their parents. But, I think those who have no legal status should be taking steps to become legal and if they plan to remain in the U.S. they should get on track to become citizens. I really don’t think colleges should be in the business of flaunting our immigration laws; they should be in the business of helping “undocumented” students become documented. I would sign a petition for that, but I would not sign a petition for the University to put out the welcome sign to illegals by creating “safe spaces”for them. And, efforts to maintain sensible immigration laws are not motivated by “hate”, as some want to say, but by adhering to reasonable expectations of what numbers of immigrants our country can absorb in short periods of time.

    Reply
    • B

      bzarDec 3, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      “America” is the Western Hemisphere. Maybe folks from countries in Latin America are confused and think it’s all one big country.
      Hating immigrants has a long history in this nation of immigrants. I hope jimmymacs isn’t of Irish ancestry.

      Reply
      • J

        jimmymacsDec 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm

        There is “North America, Central America,and South America” to be exact. When those of us who live in The United States speak of “America” we mean “The United States of America” 99% of the time. As a matter of fact I am of Celtic origin. Each wave of immigrants have met resistance for sure,and maybe its human nature for people to want to protect those things that they had to work and sacrifice for in order not to lose them. I don’t think “hate” is the correct word for this resistance; I think “fear” is the motivational factor here. Fear that the new immigrants will not be able to be accommodated without upsetting the status quo. Thats why immigration needs to happen slowly and evenly year after year, rather than being a sudden deluge that strains available accommodations for new residents. And overall, immigration has been pretty successful here, in my opinion. Is there any other nation that has accepted the diversity and numbers of immigrants as successfully as has The United States of America?

        Reply
        • B

          bzarDec 6, 2016 at 10:34 am

          Precisely my point. Maybe those of us who live in the United States should stop pretending we own the hemisphere, as our government has in fact pretended and acted upon which pretense for centuries. What would be the reaction if Russians started calling themselves “Europeans” and by that meaning only themselves?
          Now we know why the Indians fought back so “savagely”: they were afraid of an influx of immigrants taking everything and destroying their culture.
          You cop to “Celtic” but not Irish? You must be one of my Scottish brethren. Study the Know-Nothings of the 19th century. They believed the Irish could never assimilate, mainly because they were Catholic–the Muslims of the day. Their “fear” took the form of violent attacks, church burnings and active discrimination. “No Irish need apply”, etc.

          Reply