The Faculty Senate passed a resolution in support of undocumented students Monday amid fears that the incoming Trump administration could eliminate federal protections.
Specifically, the resolution backs the “continuation and strengthening” of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects eligible, undocumented youth from deportation. The resolution also states that “faculty intend to stand by UW-Madison students enrolled while under DACA.”
“There is much that we can do to address and help these undocumented students besides declaring this campus a sanctuary,” said Jerome Camal, an assistant professor of anthropology who introduced the resolution. “This is our responsibility to do ... I really urge you all to act now to help them.”
Chancellor Rebecca Blank previously signed a statement supporting DACA in November. She said at the beginning of the meeting that she has been meeting with faculty, staff and students to discuss how the university can protect undocumented students to the full extent the law allows. Blank also emphasized her lack of authority to declare UW-Madison a sanctuary campus.
Prior to its passage, however, Senate members opened up a debate about the impact such an act could have. Mark Etzel, a professor in the Food Science Department, proposed an amendment to lay out specific actions the university cannot take, including prohibiting the university from releasing immigration status and preventing campus police from arresting students on the basis of their suspected immigration status.
Proponents of the measure argued it gave the resolution more teeth. Blank reiterated that the university, including campus police, already does not keep information on students’ immigration status. Critics also voiced concerns that the language was hastily constructed without considering how it related to Wisconsin law. The amendment ultimately failed.
The Senate also passed a resolution expressing solidarity with students, faculty and staff that are “targets of discrimination” on campus, particularly focusing on Muslims at UW-Madison. Some Senate members expressed worries that focusing on Muslims would delegitimize the discrimination experienced by other marginalized groups. University Committee Chair Amy Wendt explained, however, that expanding the resolution to other groups had been considered, but was nixed due to concerns that some groups would inadvertently be left off.
The meeting also included an overview by Blank of important issues that may come up at the Board of Regents meeting in Madison Thursday, such as further out-of-state tuition increases and tenure policy.