Over 70 Members of the Faculty Sign Letter Calling for More Sanctuary Campus Measures

“Becoming a true sanctuary campus must be an ongoing and communal project and we urge every member of the Wesleyan community to contribute toward a collective effort to make our campus a place where international and undocumented students, faculty, and staff receive legal, physical, and emotional support.”


Ever since over 100 students walked out of class on Wednesday, November 16 to express support for a petition that pressed the Wesleyan administration to declare the university a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, the subject has been the focus of conversation for numerous groups on campus.

Several of the students who helped pen the sanctuary campus petition (which received over 1300 signatures) met with Board of Trustees members during the weekend before Thanksgiving break to discuss the proposal for the creation of sanctuary campus policies. Later that weekend, President Roth declared Wesleyan a sanctuary campus in a blog post. This made Wesleyan one of the first schools in the country to adopt the label. The post was picked up by The Atlantic, The Hartford Courant, and numerous other media outlets (yikes at The Daily Caller). Oh yeah, and it lead to this exchange between President Roth and Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

The question of what constitutes a sanctuary campus is still very much an open one. Over the break, there were conversations that called for more to be done than what was promised in President Roth’s post. One student remarked that President Roth’s blog post addressed none of the concerns around CAPS that were raised in the petition. It’s also important to note that the concerns raised in the petition regarding break housing and other medical and financial needs for undocumented students were also missing from Roth’s post. Along with many others, I share the position that Wesleyan’s status as a sanctuary campus needs to be implemented as something that lasts. This kind of lasting impact is only ever achieved through the creation of full-time paid positions, collaborations between faculty, students, staff, and the administration, and other factors that outlast the infamous institutional memory purge.

Many members of the faculty, while in solidarity with the decision made by President Roth, think there is more to be done to establish Wesleyan as a sanctuary campus. Seventy-six members of the faculty signed a letter to President Roth, the Board of Trustees, and the Wesleyan community calling for a series of measures that they think will better establish Wesleyan as a sanctuary campus. Read past the jump for the full text of the letter.

Here is the letter from the Wesleyan faculty:

November 28, 2016

Dear President Roth, Board of Trustees, and members of the Wesleyan community,

On November 7, the day before the 2016 presidential election, President Roth held a meeting with members of Academic Affairs and the faculty. The purpose of this “Beyond 2020” conversation was to explore ways in which we might invest Wesleyan’s resources in the years to come.

In the week following the election results, it became painfully clear to all of us that a top priority must be making Wesleyan University a sanctuary campus for members of the community who do not hold US citizenship. The faculty has witnessed first-hand the negative effects the anticipation of a Trump presidency has already had on Wesleyan students: Some have been the object of racist slurs, others have been harassed on the basis of their gender, and many fear for their own safety and that of their family and friends. Although we foresee that different groups will require different forms of assistance, we believe that establishing Wesleyan as a sanctuary campus will benefit every member of our community, and will serve as a public statement of our commitment to building a “diverse and energetic community of students, faculty, and staff” (Wesleyan University Mission Statement).

We applaud and support President Roth’s decision to “declare that Wesleyan University is a sanctuary campus” (blog post, November 20, 2016). But the vital work of becoming a sanctuary campus, and making such a campus a living, welcoming and safe community, must not end there. Becoming a true sanctuary campus must be an ongoing and communal project and we urge every member of the Wesleyan community to contribute toward a collective effort to make our campus a place where international and undocumented students, faculty, and staff receive legal, physical, and emotional support. To this end, we propose:

1) That as a “sanctuary center of higher education,” Wesleyan commit to safeguarding to the best of its abilities the members of its community from deportation, mandatory registration, surveillance, or other intimidation; and commit to providing them with legal, emotional, and financial support.

2) That the University make a public promise to refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids, and to refuse to release information regarding the immigration status of its students, staff, faculty to any government agency.

3) That Wesleyan commit itself to providing either on- or off-campus legal assistance to members of the community and their families who may be facing deportation or similar hardships due to citizenship status.

4) That the University hire a full-time director, preferably a person of color, with expertise in immigration law and services, to create and lead an undocumented persons program that will offer, at a minimum: safe spaces across the campus where those who feel threatened can seek refuge and protection; free access to legal counsel and funds to assist undocumented students, their family members, and faculty and staff’; and information and support for medical and mental health concerns.

5) That the administration establish an ad hoc committee composed of faculty, students, and administrators that will assure communication across segments of our community; examine proposals and requests; and make recommendations to President Roth and the broader community.

6) That President Roth investigate the possibility of establishing an alliance with other institutions of higher education that are sanctuary campuses, for the purposes of political, legal, and communal strength.

7) That Wesleyan helps to establish Middletown as a sanctuary city and explores the possibility of assisting Middletown public schools in becoming sanctuary schools.

8) That the entire Wesleyan community—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—commit itself to building a campus of mutual respect and protection, free from hostilities, aggression, or intimidation based on immigration status.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

Wesleyan University Faculty

1. Richie Adelstein, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics
2. Jane Alden, Associate Professor of Music
3. Calvin Anderson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater
4. Hyejoo Back, Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies
5. Noah Baerman, Jazz Ensemble Coach
6. Martin Baeumel, Visiting Assistant Professor of German
7. Jonathan Best, Professor of East Asian Art History, Emeritus
8. Peggy Carey Best, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology
9. Abigail Boggs, Assistant Professor of Sociology
10. Iris Bork-Goldfield, Adjunct Professor of German
11. Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music
12. Douglas Charles, Professor of Archeology
13. Joan Cho, Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies
14. Fredrick M. Cohan, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies
15. David Constantine, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
16. Logan Dancey, Assistant Professor of Government
17. Lisa Dombrowski, Associate Professor of Film Studies
18. John E. Finn, Professor of Government
19. Douglas C. Foyle, Associate Professor of Government
20. Courtney Fullilove, Assistant Professor of History
21. Martha Gilmore, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
22. Megan Glick, Assistant Professor of American Studies
23. Lori Gruen, Professor of Philosophy and FGSS
24. Mary Alice Haddad, Professor of Government and Environmental Studies
25. Alice B. Hadler, Adjunct Instructor in English and Associate Dean of International Student Affairs
26. Nathaniel Heneghan, Visiting Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies
27. Manju Hingorani, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
28. Abigail Hornstein, Associate Professor of Economics
29. Meredith Hughes, Assistant Professor of Astronomy
30. Elizabeth Jackson, Adjunct Associate Professor of Portuguese
31. Ron Jenkins, Professor of Theater
32. Kerwin Kaye, Assistant Professor of Sociology
33. Roy Kilgard, Research Associate Professor of Astronomy
34. Jin Hi Kim, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music
35. Natasha Korda, Professor of English
36. Abigail Levine, Visiting Instructor in Dance
37. Psyche Loui, Assistant Professor of Psychology
38. Clark Maines, Kenan Professor of the Humanities, Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture, and Professor of Archaeology
39. Peter Mark, Professor of Art History
40. Naho Maruta, Assistant Professor of the Practice of East Asian Studies
41. Emy Matesan, Assistant Professor of Government
42. Sean McCann, Professor of English
43. Louise C. Neary, Adjunct Associate Professor of Spanish
44. Rich Olson, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
45. Maria Ospina, Assistant Professor of Spanish
46. Marcela Oteiza, Assistant Professor of Dance
47. Ana Perez-Girones, Adjunct Professor of Spanish
48. Ulrich Plass, Associate Professor of German and College of Letters
49. Catherine Poisson, Associate Professor of French
50. Stéphanie Ponsavady, Assistant Professor of French
51. Justine Quijada, Assistant Professor of Religion
52. Mike Robinson, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Behavior
53. Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera, Associate Professor of Psychology
54. Rob Rosenthal, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology
55. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Professor of Religion
56. Yoshiko Samuel, Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, Emerita
57. Jeanette Samyn, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Humanities
58. Kathleen Schmidt, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
59. Anu Sharma, Associate Professor of Anthropology
60. Meng-Ju (Renee) Sher, Assistant Professor of Physics
61. Keiji Shinohara, Artist-in-Residence in Art and East Asian Studies
62. Anna Shusterman, Associate Professor of Psychology
63. Robert S. Steele, Professor of Psychology
64. Lori Stether, Emerging Technologies Librarian
65. Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Professor of Classical Studies
66. Ying Jia Tan, Assistant Professor of History
67. Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, Professor of Theater
68. Elizabeth Traub, Professor of Anthropology
69. Jennifer Tucker, Associate Professor of History
70. Gina Athena Ulysse, Professor of Anthropology and FGSS
71. Phillip B. Wagoner, Professor of Art History
72. Kim Weild, Visiting Associate Professor of Theater
73. Margot Weiss, Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Studies
74. Clara Wilkins, Assistant Professor of Psychology
75. Liza B. Williams, Visiting Assistant Professor of Government
76. Xiaomiao Zhu, Adjunct Professor of East Asian Studies

Of the 33 departments represented in the letter (out of a total of 45), The College of East Asian Studies and the Psychology departments lead with 7 signatures each. The government department has 6 faculty members signing on and Anthropology, Music, and Theater each have 4.

The first three measures that the letter proposes echo the promises Roth made in his blog post declaring Wesleyan a sanctuary campus. In addition to these measures, the faculty propose the hiring of an individual, preferably a person of color, to oversee an “undocumented persons program” and the formation of a committee of faculty, students, and administrators to oversee sanctuary campus policies. They also implore the administration to form collaborations with other colleges and universities that have adopted similar policies and to work with public officials in Middletown to push the town to become a sanctuary city.


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