Students stage walk-out, demand Tufts become a “sanctuary campus”

Hundreds of students walked out of their classes and gathered in front of Olin Center yesterday at 2:30 p.m. as part of a nationwide walkout on college campuses in an effort to push the university to designate its campuses as “sanctuary campuses,” which would protect and support undocumented Tufts students and community members in these spaces. 

The walkout was planned and led by Tufts United for Immigrant Justice (UIJ), a student group which promotes “equality for all humans irrespective of immigration status, gender, sexuality, economic status, race or other forms of oppression,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

UIJ members spoke before the crowd outside of Olin Center, relaying personal stories of fear and hope in light of President-elect Donald Trump’s election as well as presenting University President Anthony Monaco with a petition asking that Tufts be designated a “sanctuary campus,” which has been signed by 2,693 students, faculty and community members at press time.

According to the petition, designating Tufts’ campuses as “sanctuary campuses” would make all lands or structures owned or operated by the university a secure place for undocumented people; require Tufts to promise not to release information about undocumented students and community members, as well as to refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities seeking to conduct raids; require the university to offer immigration legal services to assist students and community members; and stipulate that the university establish an Office for Undocumented Student Support.

The petition also states that making Tufts a “sanctuary campus” would be a concrete action supporting the university’s proclaimed values.

“This threat to undocumented community members requires a concrete and tangible response from the University—not just words or symbolic gestures,” the petition reads. “Tufts is in a unique position to protect its undocumented community members from law enforcement. It is the duty of this University to ensure that it remains a place that actively protects the rights and safety of its community.”

Students gathered in the face of possible changes to federal immigration law and policy in the wake of last Tuesday’s election results, specifically Trump’s promise to overturn Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), an executive order passed by President Barack Obama granting two-year work permits and deportation exemptions to immigrants who came to the United States before turning 16 years old.

Tufts undergraduate body has at least 12 undocumented or DACA students in the first-year class alone, according to the Undergraduate Profile of the Class of 2020.

Monaco attended the walk-out as well and was given a megaphone to read an official statement from the university in response to UIJ’s request, in which he reaffirmed Tufts’ commitment to protecting undocumented students but made no solid commitment to making Tufts a sanctuary campus.  

“Tufts is committed to continuing our support of DACA and undocumented students,” he said. “We are therefore exploring what it would mean to declare Tufts a ‘sanctuary campus’ — and what the implications of that decision might be for our DACA and undocumented students and the university as a whole.”

UIJ member Emma Kahn told the Daily that the organization was disappointed in Monaco’s lack of commitment, but remained optimistic about working with the administration in the future.

“We were wondering if he was going to commit to that today, and we were feeling really hopeful about what that would have meant, so we’re really disappointed that Tufts wasn’t able to make that commitment today,” Kahn, a junior, said. “But we’re still really energized by Tufts continuing to work on this, and we’re excited to work with them.”

Ben Kaplan, president of Tufts Democrats, was optimistic that the university would respond to the student demonstration accordingly.

“I’m confident that when the university sees the broad base of support for UIJ‘s demands, they will act to fulfill these demands,” Kaplan, a senior, said.

Monaco also reassured attendees that the policy the university adopted in spring of 2015which stipulates that Tufts will accept and provide aid to undocumented students as they would domestic applicants, would remain unchanged.

Some professors modified their class scheduling to accommodate students interested in participating in the walk out, including Sociology Professor Paul Joseph, who ended his Globalization and Social Change lecture at 2:30 p.m.

“I was responding to a request from a couple [of] students in the class that really wanted to go,” Joseph said. “I said students are free to go to the rally, but I also said students should make their own choice.”

Rabbi Jordan Braunig, director of Tufts Hillel Center’s Initiative for Innovative Community Building, said that he came to the rally to support the Tufts community.

“I feel like everyone’s feeling anxious in this moment, and [we need] to be sure that students who are undocumented know that there’s a whole campus in solidarity with them,” Braunig said. “It’s just the most important thing that we can be doing right now.”

Many students also said that the gathering was an occasion to protest Trump in general and in particular his proposed immigration and deportation policies.

Junior Nicky Carne, who attended the walk-out, said that the demonstration was as much a showing of solidarity for undocumented students as it was a political statement.

“I have two friends who study here who are undocumented … people who woke up that morning [Nov. 9] and had just been told by their country that they didn’t matter, and that no one was going to be there for them,” she said. “The fact that this is happening at other universities around the nation is so huge, and it feels really good to be out here.”

Kaplan echoed that sentiment, saying that student demonstration was an effective way to send the President-elect a message.

“If we as a community can stand with undocumented immigrants, then we can show the Trump administration that we are serious about organizing and resisting his ultra-conservative agenda,” Kaplan said.




17 Responses

Leave a Reply
  1. kennebec123
    Nov 17, 2016 - 04:59 PM

    I realize it’s doubtful that anyone reads this article. I’m only here because I saw the author, Liam Knox, on The O’Reilly Factor.

    Wow. Knox is among the most immature, ignorant, insufferable, rude, thoughtless, brainwashed little twits I’ve ever seen. His repertoire of idiotic liberal cliches is, however, quite impressive.

    I know he is only a child who is immersed in a sea of liberal sewage, and with age may come at least some knowledge and wisdom. For those attributes, from what I saw on O’Reilly, he is certainly an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

    • No Nonsense
      Nov 17, 2016 - 06:29 PM

      As a Tufts parent, I am incredibly impressed with Liam Knox and his ability to stay calm, poised and articulate while being badgered by Bill O’Reilly. Great job Liam! And great job Tufts — for giving your students the intellectual armor necessary to do battle in the marketplace of ideas.
      As for Kennebec, your childish name-calling is pretty boring. Yawn.

      • kennebec123
        Nov 18, 2016 - 01:08 AM

        “…Tufts parent”…blah blah blah.

        Your support of immature hate-monger Liam Knox displays your ignorant, hate-supporting, hate-filled bigotry.

        Liam Knox is a hateful, hate-filled bigot. I’m confident that ISIS inspired terrorists support Liam, and his supporters.

        If you’re a parent of a Tufts student, instead of being proud of his childish, mindless idiocy, you should be advocating for his transfer to an American university, such as Hillsdale College.

        BTW, “President-elect Trump”, you America hating dimwit. Yawn.

        • No Nonsense
          Nov 18, 2016 - 01:14 AM

          Kennebec – the only one who’s spewing hate and bigotry is you. Please take your meds and go to sleep.

      • aendruh
        Nov 21, 2016 - 08:37 AM

        If, as a Tufts parent, you are proud that Tufts is promoting lawlessness, then I am at a loss of words. Do laws matter? Can any law be broken, or just the ones that you disagree with? Is this what Tufts should be teaching, or should they be actually educating students on the process that is involved in changing laws?

        And to others above, I think it quite petty to point out spelling mistakes of others to imply their insufficient education or for Liam to spend half the interview to tell the audience what the term illegal can and cannot refer to. But I also take great comfort in seeing these things – because it shows clearly that almost no one on the political left understands what happened in this election. The arrogance and elitism was soundly rejected!

        • No Nonsense
          Nov 21, 2016 - 10:55 AM

          aendruh – if you actually stopped and paid attention to what I wrote, you’d see that your comment makes no sense.
          I’m not advocating for a “sanctuary” campus and I said nothing about Tuft’s official position on the issue. My comments were focused on the hateful words and name-calling that was directed at a Tufts student. Liam was calm, respectful, and articulate despite being interrupted and badgered by O’Reilly. I’m proud of him for that. It’s unfair — and frankly ridiculous — to call Liam “hateful,” “bigoted” and all the other things that kennecbec said.
          You may not agree with what Liam said, but I’m proud of the way he remained poised and articulate. What we need in this country is more calm discussion. Not hateful name-calling.

          • heatherGirl
            Nov 28, 2016 - 11:37 AM

            I watched that interview also. The man could barely form a sentence that made sense! You have a low standard for articulate.

      • heatherGirl
        Nov 28, 2016 - 11:35 AM

        You seem to support the idea of sanctuaries from federal laws! So this should apply to other things? Like ObamaCare which is a federal law, we can all just refuse to follow that…… Toss in the same sex marriage law, which is also federal law, so we can have sanctuary cities that ignore that law too…… why not toss in federal laws banning some guns, we can all just ignore those too…..

        Isn’t it fun when we all get to pick and choose which federal laws we ignore!

        • No Nonsense
          Nov 28, 2016 - 11:53 AM

          You need to work on your reading comprehension, heather. I said nothing about supporting a “sanctuary” campus. My comments are only about encouraging calm, intelligent dialogue — and pushing back against name-calling and childish insults.

    • federalist46 .
      Nov 17, 2016 - 06:38 PM

      You are 100% correct. If this is an example of what Tufts produces then we are in for a long painful decent into a pit of arrogant self absorption.

      • No Nonsense
        Nov 18, 2016 - 01:37 AM

        Your spelling error is quite telling. Yes, Tufts is producing decent young men and women who care about and respect their fellow human beings — the very opposite of self-absorption.
        Ironically, it’s you kennnebec who are descending into mindless, hate-fueled name-calling, while young Liam — who’s probably barely 19 or 20 — remained calm and respectful in the face of O’Reilly’s attempted bullying.

  2. Bob
    Nov 17, 2016 - 09:09 PM

    Declaring Tufts a “sanctuary campus” means Tufts will not comply with federal laws, which will threaten all federal funding for Tufts including student loans. This shows why adults run the school, not the students.

    • aendruh
      Nov 21, 2016 - 08:40 AM

      Bob, you don’t understand. Tufts students don’t care about this, the care about ideology. They also showed this by supporting the unionization of faculty and staff. They support the increase in the minimum wage. But – wait for it – they then also demonstrate and protest tuition hikes. This shows (and should also show the proud Tufts parent above) what is taught. Simple economics and the complexity of a society are not interesting. What is interesting is the feel-good ideology, and that is all that they will know when they are sent out into the labor force. Good luck with that student debt!

      • heatherGirl
        Nov 28, 2016 - 11:41 AM

        I say let them do it. Of course they surrender all federal funds to the campus and all the students surrender their federal loans.

        Go for it.

  3. heatherGirl
    Nov 28, 2016 - 11:31 AM

    As long as they surrender all federal grants and stop taking federal student loans……… go for it cupcakes!

    • Albino Squirrel
      Nov 28, 2016 - 12:10 PM

      do you think your trolling benefits from casting yourself as a woman, as opposed to your actual gender?

  4. roccolore
    Nov 29, 2016 - 05:51 PM

    I hope their tuition skyrockets…so I can call out the liberal hypocrites whose support for illegal aliens caused the tuition hikes.

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