“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.