NESCAC Students Respond to Trump’s Executive Orders

NESCAC schools have been reacting to President Trump’s executive actions following his inauguration on January 20. In particular, many campuses have been proclaiming their support for and intentions to protect refugee and immigrant students.

After Trump’s election, The Bates Student took immediate action, publishing an article that requested a proclamation from the Bates administration declaring Bates’ protection of undocumented students. Clayton Spencer, the Bates College President, has since responded in an article published on January 30 in The Bates Student. In her response, Spencer lists the protections that Bates provides for undocumented students. Spencer makes clear that Bates’ application process will continue to pay no attention to immigration status, that the college will protect information regarding students’ immigration status, and that they will continue to uphold anti-discrimination values. However, Spencer has denied requests from The Bates Student’s request that the administration declares Bates a “sanctuary campus” due to the connotations that this statement might evoke. Spencer is weary of defining Bates with a phrase that might suggest its disregard for the law.

In a similar vein, Clayton Rose, the President of Bowdoin College, spoke out against President Trump’s Muslim ban. Rose sent out a campus-wide email condemning the executive order. According to The Bowdoin Orient, the email ensures Bowdoin’s dedication to protecting its students.

Like other NESCAC students, Williams students are upset with the college’s refusal to proclaim Williams a “sanctuary campus.” While the Williamstown Police Department has publicly announced its dedication to protecting its community despite new immigration laws, much of the student body remains concerned. Both the college and the Williamstown Police Department have vowed to keep students’ immigration statuses confidential as long as they are legally allowed to do so. According to the Williams Record, Jaquelíne Serrano, a senior at Williams, views the college’s denial of the term “sanctuary campus” as a denial of the actual protection of undocumented students. “We are watching as power-yielding institutions like Williams remain quiet in times like these and continue to stand for legality, a construct that is built to benefit those in power,” Serrano said.

Discussions of sanctuary campuses and cities have also been taking place at Tufts University. A panel discussion took place at Tufts discussing the concept of sanctuary cities and Boston’s role in protecting undocumented students. As a sanctuary city, Boston’s local police refuse to enforce immigration laws. While Trump has stated that he will cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, he has yet to enforce this. Like the other NESCACs, Tufts has denied student urges to declare the college a “sanctuary campus,” much to the student body’s dismay.

Amherst students have also expressed discontent with their administration’s lack of action. This past Wednesday, Amherst students organized a walkout and march in protest of Trump’s immigration ban. According to The Amherst Student, students marched to Converse Hall shouting, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” Students published a list of demands for the Amherst administration regarding the protection of undocumented students. The rally seemed to be heavily focused on the shortcomings of the Amherst administration following Trump’s executive order. According to The Amherst Student, protesters were angered by the lack of action taken by Amherst’s International Students Office. The demands of the students have yet to be met by the administration. Until the demands are met, students are vowing to stage sit-ins in Amherst President Biddy Martin’s office.

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