January 24, 2017
By Emily Lapinski
In light of current political changes and rising concerns for undocumented students, campuses all over the country have decided to designate themselves as sanctuary campuses. On Dec. 16, Dominican officially joined other campuses and declared itself a sanctuary.
President Donna Carroll commented on the university’s decision to join the movement.
“Dominican has been a leader and an early and public voice in support of the rights of undocumented students for more than a decade,” Carroll said. “It is appropriate and important, therefore, that we take a strong stand at this critical time, not only on behalf of our DREAMers and their families, but also for other students feeling marginalized and threatened.”
Following the signing of the Illinois DREAM Act in 2011, Carroll established Dominican as a leader in support of undocumented students, including financially. In 2011-2012, Dominican provided more than $270,000 to 17 undocumented students.
The sanctuary movement dates back to the 1980s with the Catholic Church, grounded in the idea of providing refuge for undocumented immigrants. At the present moment, according to the official resolution document released by the university, “it does not promise that universities will provide refuge for undocumented immigrants, but it does challenge campuses to do what they can, within the law, to protect residents from deportation.”
Dominican’s core ethical values have allowed it to be a safe space for undocumented students, with support coming from both micro and macro levels.
“The fact that the Board of Trustees formally approved the resolution is significant and a different level of endorsement and visibility than at many other institutions,” Carroll said.
Because our Dominican community is so diverse, developing the resolution and making sure that it was properly modified, was a natural move.
“Our demographics push us to do more, because changes in immigration policies, specifically the possible roll back of DACA, will have a greater impact on our students and families,” Carroll said.
The university wanted to make sure that the resolution was approved and published prior to the inauguration so that Dominican’s unfaltering position would be clear and in place.
“I am not saying that Dominican has this all figured out,” Carroll said. “It is a messy uncertain time, but we are sincere is our attempts to support our students and our mission.”
Last month the University of Illinois rejected students’ request to declare it a sanctuary campus. Northwestern did the same in November.