The Boise State student organization Students Honoring Active Demarginalization Efforts (SHADES) wrote a letter to President Bob Kustra requesting that Boise State deem itself a sanctuary campus. Essentially, a sanctuary campus is a campus that would enforce policies to ensure the protection of undocumented or DACA students, similar to the concept of a sanctuary city.
Now that President Barack Obama has officially issued his Farewell Address, the inevitable inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump is upon us and the mixed feelings have yet to dissipate. Immigration became one of the larger topics for discussion with Trump promising to build a wall, get rid of sanctuary cities and reform current immigration laws like President Obama’s amnesty programs.
One of the many promises Trump made when he released his plans for the first 100 days of his presidency last year was to overturn President Obama’s executive actions on immigrations which includes the Deferred Action for Childhood Program (DACA). This program, which was signed into effect in 2012, does not grant lawful status. It provides relief and prevents the deportation of individuals who were brought to the US as minors for a period of time. A certain criteria must be met to be eligible for this program which includes that the individual has not been convicted of a crime, is enrolled in school or have completed school, and are/were younger than 16 when brought to the states.
The idea of universities becoming sanctuary campuses became a common theme for conversations on college campuses throughout the election cycle. As of last year, Connecticut University, Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and even University of Pennsylvania—Trump’s alma mater— have all become sanctuary campuses.
In their petition, SHADES references Boise State’s “commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Acknowledging the demands of the petition would fulfill Boise State’s desire to stay true to this commitment. They ask that Boise State abide by these shared values by doing the following to show support for their undocumented/DACA students:
Prohibit school funds from contributing to federal immigration laws.
Prohibit Boise State police from asking about a student’s citizenship status.
Refuse to release a student’s immigration status.
Assure that all students have an experience free of hostilities, aggressions or bullying by encouraging campus dialogues.
Add a page to the school website that lists a description or resources for undocumented/DACA students.
Communicate that undocumented/DACA students are full members of the Boise State community.
Designate a Vice President for diversity and inclusion.
Some of the requests in this petition seem to be more plausible than others, especially when it comes to the way in which they are enforced. SHADES puts most, if not all, the responsibility on the university. Additionally, they seem to be asking for the university to take preventative measures rather than addressing how Boise State can help if these things were to happen. While it is the responsibility of the university to ensure that all of their students are safe regardless of their background while on campus on a macro-level, certain requests seem like they will be more difficult for Boise State to maintain complete control over. The demands of the petition are pushing Boise State in the right direction, but it leaves Boise State with the responsibilty to figure out how they plan to meet them.
For example, promoting campus dialogues in order to create an environment free of hostilities would require the involvement of not only the administration, but faculty and students as well. Students must be willing to engage in campus dialogues; forcing them could lead to a counterproductive result, such as silence or avoidance.
Fortunately, Boise State has a variety of clubs and organizations where these conversations are encouraged such as ACLU at Boise State, Tunnel of Oppression, and SHADES. Unfortunately, even though they are open and welcome to all students, they usually only attract those who are already familiar or have a particular interest in this field. The university should focus on providing more resources to its organizations that help with reaching out to more audiences.
For the best result, these campus dialogues regarding creating a sanctuary campus would have to be integrated well within the classroom too. Doing so would help reach other audiences who may not be involved with organizations that are already having these conversations or with the concept of a sanctuary campus in the first place. This puts the responsibility on the respective professor to create a classroom environment that encourages this kind of dialogue, which is definitely necessary and it would fulfill the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Professors can utilize their platform to encourage their students to become involved with organizations who commit to this too.
This petition is only the start of what needs to be an ongoing conversation at Boise State. It could serve as a tool to raise awareness and fostering discussion.
Making Boise State a sanctuary campus calls for the campus and community to remain informed and cognizant of the current political climate and how it will affect us on an individual level and community level. If Boise State can not meet all of the demands in the petition, they need to act on the ones that they can. This petition provides Boise State with the opportunity to abide by their commitment to diversity and inclusion and it should not be taken for granted.