Editorial: Establish a sanctuary campus at Tufts

petition calling upon the administration to make Tufts a sanctuary campus for undocumented members of the university community has made waves at Tufts over the past week, garnering more than 3,000 signatures. The petition calls on the university to protect the identities of all undocumented community members — including students, their families, staff and workers — to provide them access to immigration legal services and to bar U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other immigration agencies from making raids on the university’s campuses. This petition was accompanied by a campus-wide walk-out on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 16, during which hundreds of students gathered to support solidifying protections for undocumented members of the Tufts community.

These demands follow those of many students on college campuses across the country who are aiming to create protections for staff and fellow students in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s election.

Following the walk-out, University President Anthony Monaco expressed his support for undocumented students, stating, “Tufts is committed to continuing our support of DACA and undocumented students because we have a moral responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of all students regardless of their citizenship status or personal identities.” However, Monaco made no firm commitment to establish Tufts as a sanctuary campus, leaving many frustrated with the university’s lack of palpable solutions following the election.

It is imperative that Monaco and the administration take this key step before Trump takes office for several reasons. Establishing Tufts as a sanctuary campus would be a concrete measure that would ensure all members of our community are protected and valued. Given that the Admissions team has decided that students are welcome “regardless of citizenship status, making Tufts a sanctuary campus would ensure that claims the administration has already made would be substantiated.

Further, given the sheer number of students and staff members that have supported the petition, Tufts needs to consider that a significant portion of the student population wants to establish these safeguards for community members. For the university to ignore the demands of such a significant number of students would demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the students that comprise the very foundation of this university.

Declaring Tufts a sanctuary campus would also be symbolic on a broader scale. This is a time of anxiety and uncertainty for undocumented students throughout the United States, with many fearing harassment, discrimination and the threat of deportation under a Trump administration. Joining the nationwide sanctuary movement would demonstrate our solidarity with undocumented students nationwide and the University’s commitment to valuing and protecting all of our community members. 

Given the substantial amount of student support behind the petition and its crucial importance in light of our current political situation, it is critical that Monaco and his administration take the formal step to establish our campus as a sanctuary campus. Not only would the action ensure that all members of our own community feel safe and protected, it would also send an important message of solidarity to undocumented individuals nationwide who are uncertain about their futures at this time.