Since President-Elect Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last month, the U.S. has seen mass protests, many of them originating on university and college campuses. More than 100 universities had staged walkouts on Nov. 16 in response to the outcome of the presidential election, according to the New York Post.
Among the calls for change heard from students is the creation of “sanctuary campuses.” According to The Atlantic, the term is derived from “sanctuary city,” and is essentially university commitment to support its immigrant students and deny immigration officials access to raid the campus or obtain names of undocumented students.
On Nov. 17, hundreds of students from Northeastern University gathered on Centennial Common to protest Donald Trump’s election and called on university administrators to establish a sanctuary campus. The protest was organized by Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID), according to The Huntington News. SAID published an open letter to university president Joseph Aoun and Northeastern officials, asking them to denounce acts of bigotry from students and commit to a sanctuary campus.
Aoun has not committed to the sanctuary campus title, but in an email to students on Nov. 14, he reiterated the school’s ideals of inclusion and tolerance. “Please know that Northeastern will always be a haven for inclusion and free expression. We will always defend human dignity. We will never countenance bigotry or intolerance in any form,” Aoun wrote.
Even the University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, announced on Nov. 31 that its campus would become a sanctuary campus for individuals fearing deportation, according to an article by The Philadelphia Enquirer. “The University of Pennsylvania will continue to advocate passionately for comprehensive immigration reform,” UPenn president Amy Gutmann said in an email to students on Wednesday. The announcement came in reaction to Trump’s claims that he will repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which delays the deportation process for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
So far, at least 28 universities have declared themselves to be sanctuary campuses.
However, not everyone is happy with these calls. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Dec. 1 that funding would be cut for universities that identify as sanctuary campuses. “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status,” Abbott said in a Tweet on Thursday.
An article from BuzzFeed News warned that loss of funding could become a harsh reality for universities who identify themselves as sanctuary campuses:
“…there’s no legal reason why schools can’t refuse to cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, just as with sanctuary cities, Trump’s administration could restrict the flow of millions in federal funds.”