April 24, 2017
By Nayah James
For more than a decade, Dominican has taken a leadership role when it came to immigration reform and the rights of undocumented students. In December of 2016, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution after conversation with the Dominican Immigrant Student Collective (DISC), designating Dominican as a sanctuary campus.
Declaring itself a sanctuary campus means that Dominican is committed to equally protecting all students regardless of their immigration status, not providing access to student information regarding their status and providing resources for undocumented students such as academic counseling, personal counseling, financial aid, legal referrals, etc.
“While sanctuary campus has no legal meaning, each campus declares its status by either a Presidential statement, a faculty statement or statement by a community of stakeholder,” said Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Chief Diversity Officer Sheila Radford-Hill. “Dominican passed a Board of resolution. This is the highest level of institutional support.”
Dominican’s commitment is significantly important and extensive to its undocumented students.
The resolution states, “We are compelled, by mission, to advocate for, and walk alongside our undocumented students, their families and their communities whose future is so uncertain. Accompaniment is the foundation of sanctuary at Dominican.”
Radford-Hill clarified that “accompaniment” provides support for students who fear or are subject to deportation.
“We are compelled to act because we are committed to creating a just and humane society,” Radford-Hill said. “Dominican’s tradition and Catholic social teaching intersects and experiences of our students.”
A part from Dominican being a ‘welcoming and safe environment for all’, the resolution also states that it is “one of the first universities in the country to welcome publicly and financial support students regardless of documentations and immigration status.”
Radford-Hill also explained that although undocumented students aren’t eligible for Federal or State financial aid, they do receive “financial support through independent donations.”
The resolution states, “while it does not promise that universities will provide refuge for undocumented immigrants, it does challenge campuses to do what they can, within the law, to protect residents from deportation.”
After reviewing the University’s FERPA procedures for maximum privacy allowable under law, Radford- Hill said the administration “organized a community forum and two legal working session, providing a website with resources in additional to the University’s Front Door Policy.”
The last known update of the policy was in December of 2016. In the last 5 months, the dean of students has taken lead in communicating the policy and facilitating training sessions to implement it to students.
“There will be an email sent to the community and will be shared next semester,” said Radford-Hill.