The university offers protections and services to undocumented students affected by Trump’s executive order that bans citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States. The university is doing something right — they’re doing a great job protecting their international students. However, the university administration has chosen an apolitical route by not adopting the label of “sanctuary campus.” The label would not declare any illegal defiance, it would only welcome a looming fear of punishment in the form of revoked grants and funding. Anything is possible under this administration and this fear has some legitimacy but to date, no legislation has been passed that would cut any type of funding.
The status of the university’s international students is not the only thing in question under the current president. Similarly, programs concerning education on and addressing of the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking on campus and off, such as VAWA are at risk under the current president — despite prominent alumnus Joe Biden’s highly publicized crusade to denounce and tackle such issues, specifically on college campuses.
Political elites have also denounced climate change, putting the entire climate science field at risk. Universities have the legitimacy, knowledge and power to combat misconceptions and false truths. It’s important that the administrators of these institutions utilize their positions and power to make effective statements even when they can’t please both sides.
With today’s political divide, promoting a respectful dialogue is important. However Trump’s administration’s actions — and the actions of his emboldened supporters — will directly affect the lives of marginalized students on campus. By taking a step back from politics, the university could potentially refuse speaking out in support of many of its students, especially students of color, Muslim students, undocumented students and LGBTQ students. Hateful rhetoric is everywhere — even in the mouth of the nation’s president. This is not a time when the university can stand back and choose not to involve itself in the political conversation. Education needs to remain the cure to small minds and an antidote to falsity — and it cannot do that if university leaders refuse to take a strong stance.
The Review is not asking the university to denounce President Donald Trump and his administration directly, but we would like to remind the administration that universities have an obligation to protect the integrity of education. A university, after all, is the foreground of political thought, free speech and activism. We understand the administration’s responsibility to respect all viewpoints, but we dare the university to be one of the first to not stand idly by in time when inaction has so much potential to feed corruption and hate.
Editorials are developed by The Review staff, led by Editorial Editor Alex Eichenstein and Investigative Editor Margaret McNamara.