As the Trump administration begins, leaders at two Tacoma universities said they want students to know that no matter what happens in Washington, D.C., their right to an education and safety while at school is a priority.
Top leaders of Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound made public their commitment to protect students, specifically those who could be affected by any changes to federal immigration policy under President Donald Trump.
PLU President Thomas W. Krise wrote an open letter to students, staff members and faculty that was posted to the school’s website on the eve of the inauguration. The message: no matter who occupies the White House, PLU will stand up for its students.
“I want to assure you that PLU remains firmly committed to the well-being of all of our students regardless of their immigration status or their religious beliefs,” Krise wrote.
School spokeswoman Donna Gibbs said Krise released the letter before Trump’s swearing-in Friday because of rumors that Trump would immediately repeal executive orders on immigration enacted by outgoing President Barack Obama.
“There has been heightened anxiety, as you can imagine, by our students who could be impacted,” Gibbs said. “We felt it was important to get this message out in a timely fashion.”
A similar message was conveyed by UPS President Isiaah Crawford in December when he sent a campus-wide email about the school’s intent to protect its undocumented students.
“Higher education provides tangible benefits to our society as a whole, and we are committed to offering services and resources that help our students achieve their educational goals,” Crawford wrote in the letter now posted to the school’s website.
Krise and Crawford said the universities would not voluntarily enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security or any other federal agency trying to enforce federal immigration law through acts such as deportations, immigration raids or removing people from campus.
They also said they would not release information regarding the immigration status of students and staff members, should federal authorities ask, unless forced to by law.
Both schools will continue to accept applications from qualified students who are undocumented and will offer financial aid to those who qualify.
If Trump ends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established by Obama to protect children brought to the United States illegally, Krise said PLU will “continue to provide institutional aid to impacted students.”
“We don’t yet know what will come from this new administration,” Krise wrote. “These measures, however, have been reviewed by university counsel and will be in place until further notice.”