Sanctuary Campus aims to protect undocumented students

By Cecilia Morales 

The Election Day results sent shockwaves across the United States, spurring president-elect Donald Trump’s opposition to protest against him. As many as 5,000 people filled the streets of Manhattan, some using the hashtag #NotMyPresident to express their dissatisfaction through social media.

Students at Ithaca College also expressed their dissatisfaction with the election results during a rally held at the college Nov. 16. Hannah Titlebaum, a sophomore communication management and design major at the college, organized the rally after realizing that action was necessary.

“Originally, we were talking about a photo project, but the talk started to turn to other things we could do,” she said. “We wanted to do something and [a rally] was some action we could take.”

That action is called #SanctuaryCampus, a movement created in support of undocumented students’ rights to higher education. According Cosecha, a nonviolent movement fighting for the humane and permanent protection of immigrants in this country,  #SanctuaryCampus aims to “establish public spaces of resistance and protection for our country’s most vulnerable people,” enforces the idea of a safe space for those who feel threatened by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.  untitled2

“The Sanctuary Campus movement was just the thing we were looking for, and it’s exactly what I would hope this campus would support and take actions to support,” Titlebaum said. “ It’s important to put our actions where our mouths are, especially in anticipation of the continued and deepened oppression against all of the minorities in this country, but particularly against the most vulnerable, the only group which cannot legally speak on their own behalf: undocumented persons.”

Many conservatives renounce efforts made in support of undocumented students, using Trump’s infamous “build a wall” discourse to further support this ideal; however, undocumented students nationwide have greatly benefitted from government programs.

According to the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 caused led to an increase in postsecondary education for immigrant students. In a 2015 survey of about 1,800 DACA students, 30 percent of respondents started postsecondary education for the first time, while another 30 percent returned to school. In addition, 31 percent of survey respondents reported having increased access to scholarships and financial aid.

Renee Rodriguez, a senior biology major at the college, attended the rally in support of these students.

“I think it’s shameful that we don’t allow students to come to our country and get an education to better themselves,” she said. “These people are not criminals: they’re like anyone else who wants to go to school and be successful. That opportunity should be available to you regardless of where you’re from.”

Titlebaum agrees, and hopes that more future efforts will be made to allow easier access to education for undocumented students.

“[I] hope that this college, as well as all, will protect undocumented students by honoring DACA status, regardless of whether or not Trump rescinds the executive order while in office,” she said. “We want this to be the first of many rallies and open up this very important discussion on campus [to] involve lots of people from all kinds of different groups.”

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