The Academic Senate unanimously voted Wednesday to create a small workgroup tasked with organizing a school-wide response to the Trump administration’s recent immigration policies.
Since taking office, President Trump signed several executive orders to expand immigration enforcement and increase deportations across the country. Last week, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly also issued a set of memos to ease restrictions on the work of Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents (ICE).
In the wake of such actions, the City College administration has taken several steps to ensure all undocumented students feel safe and included on campus. Executive Vice President Dr. Paul Jarrell sent out a school wide email last week with information on how to deal with ICE, which was then followed up by another email from President-Superintendent Dr. Anthony Beebe. Other campus groups have also been doing their part to make students feel included, like the Express to Success program’s “You Belong Here” poster.
“All we can say right now, is that we are going to stand with the practices that the chancellor’s office and the other higher education systems have to protect our students and to not welcome agents on campus,” Jarrell said.
Although the senate started their discussion with heated statements and emotional anecdotes, it quickly resolved to taking action. Senator Kathleen O’Connor, representing the Physical Education Division, first started that transition.
O’Connor stated that it “might be time for us to do something on this campus,” and expressed her interest in working with a group of faculty to do something supportive of every City College student.
Many ideas floated around the meeting room about how the senate should take action. Senator Danielle Swiontek, representing the Social Sciences Division, suggested that the college take a page from Vietnam and host teach-ins.
Other senators proposed hosting more formal events such as inviting prominent public figures to the college to speak about equity or host workshops to support students.
“I think we need to start talking and have our goal be something this spring; even if it’s not fully developed,” O’Connor said. “Something to show our students that we, as faculty, support them.”
When Academic Senate President Priscilla Butler asked for volunteers to work on the new workgroup, hands immediately shot up. Senator Dolores Howard, representing the English as a Second Language Division, was chosen to lead the group.
One of the first things Howard plans to do is establish a clear focus for the workgroup to move forward with.
“Some of the conversation today was that we’d like to focus on immigrant issues when we plan our first event,” Howard said. “The other part I heard was how we’re going to coordinate with the equity group, which is already putting on events here on campus.”
No official date has been set yet for the work group’s first meeting. The Academic Senate will reconvene in two weeks on March 8.