University of Northern Colorado responds to concerns on eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration
January 20, 2017
On the eve of president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton sent an email across campus reiterating the university's support for undocumented students but stopping short of using the newly popular phrase, "sanctuary campus."
Since Trump was elected president of the United States in November, there has been growing concern in the UNC community when it comes to protecting undocumented students on campus, of which there are about 60.
Norton has responded several times to that, as well as the rise of racially motivated verbal attacks on campus since Trump first came to campus Oct. 31. And on Dec. 12, the UNC Board of Trustees passed a resolution affirming support for undocumented students.
With Trump's inauguration Friday, a petition was crafted earlier this week, solicited by a group calling itself the Sanctuary Campus Caucus and drafted by Chris Bowen, UNC student personnel supervisor for campus dining.
In an introductory email, Bowen warned others on the email thread of what he sees as the dangers of a Trump presidency and the need to act now, a reference to the petition that sought to put pressure on UNC officials to declare UNC a sanctuary campus. The petition was slated to go to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The major thrust of the sanctuary campus movement is to require Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to obtain a warrant before operating on campus, and disallowing campus police help in immigration check efforts.
The call for a sanctuary campus designation has largely been met with reassurances from top UNC officials, but no firm or detailed commitments.
Norton sent her email at 2 p.m. Thursday, and addressed, in the greatest detail to date, the sanctuary campus movement.
» All members of the UNC community are entitled to due process of law.
» UNC will comply with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to safeguard students' personal information.
» UNC will continue to support the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the Colorado bill Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow, statements Norton backed up in December by signing a public statement of support.
» UNC will not support efforts to require individuals to register on the basis of religion or nationality.
In the fall, a group of UNC faculty and staff formed an ad-hoc task force to come up with, then push a petition seeking a sanctuary campus designation for UNC. The sanctuary campus movement, with roots in the sanctuary city movement, has taken higher education by storm in the past few months, with petitions at nearly 200 institutions and numerous organizations taking steps to protect students without documentation.
Norton referenced the rise of the movement, but said there is no common, agreed-upon definition for a sanctuary campus, which is why she said UNC has not used the term.
"It is our intention to protect and support the members of our university community while upholding our responsibility to follow the law," Norton's email read, in part.
— Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.