More than 750 Texas State University students, faculty, staff and alumni have signed an online petition asking university administrators to declare the school a “sanctuary” for undocumented students and staff.
The petition, addressed to Texas State President Denise Trauth and Provost Gene Bourgeois, outlines concerns about troubling incidents on and near campus after Donald Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election. In one instance, fliers circulated on campus that touted support for “our man Trump” and threatened school leaders with attacks for spouting “diversity garbage.”
“In the past month, fliers have been posted on the Texas State campus calling for ‘tar & feather vigilante squads’ to ‘arrest and torture…university leaders,’ ” the petition states. “In addition, a male student was assaulted in a LGBTQIA hate crime just a block from campus. In another incident, the university lost a widely revered campus student leader in a tragic suicide.”
The petition acknowledges that university leaders responded to the incidents with emails and social media posts calling for unity and urging students to report all threats to University Police. But the petition says the response has fallen short.
“These responses are reactive at best and do not actively promote an environment that ensures the safety of our most vulnerable community members,” the petition states. “Our vision of a sanctuary campus involves actively and vigilantly protecting Texas State University’s most vulnerable populations through administrative policies.”
Texas State spokesperson Matt Flores said the university is still reviewing the petition and that he does not yet know when or if the administration will respond.
The petition cited concerns over Trump’s campaign pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and the call by his surrogates for a national registry for Muslims. It also asserts that university officials haven’t adequately communicated how they will respond if Trump repeals President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that safeguards students who are not citizens from deportation, grants them authorization to work and enables them to get a driver’s license.
Texas State sophomore and a student with DACA status Lesly De Leon said she was one of the 768 who signed the petition because she knows what it’s like to be vulnerable in the current political climate. She wants protection not only for herself but also for other minority communities, including Muslims and gay Americans.
“Immigration—that’s a really important topic to me, and all the petition is asking for is to get the administration to listen to our concerns and do what they can to protect these vulnerable students,” De Leon said.
Texas State junior May Olvera said it’s important to her that leaders publicly declare Texas State a sanctuary campus because as a Mexican immigrant herself, she knows what people are fleeing from when they come to America.
“I was extremely privileged to have an American grandfather who passed the nationality down to me, but I don’t think that gives me more of a right to life, security or education than students who come here through DACA,” Olvera said. “And it’s important the university protects those students, because some students, if deported, would be sent back to poverty, hunger, violence and maybe even death. They’re here actively working hard to earn an education that would help them and their families, and to not protect something so noble is inherently wrong.”
The petition lists a series of requests for Texas State University’s administration and student government.
“We urge that Texas State University’s administration:
- Declare Texas State University a sanctuary for undocumented students, workers, and community members.
- Guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding the immigration status of students, staff, and/or university community members.
- Prohibit campus housing discrimination based on immigration status.
- Take measures to increase visibility, access, and expansion of resources for immigrant, black, LGBTQIA, Muslim, and other underrepresented populations (e.g. confidential counseling services, advocacy networks).
- Bolster existing policies to address and denounce hostility and hate speech in our university community.
- In the event of the arrest, imprisonment, detainment, and/or deportation of a student, enact arrangements for the online continuation of their courses enabling the completion of their degree programs.”