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Sanctuaries in SUNY:

by Staff Editorial

Welcoming all students to our campus

Wed, Feb 8th 2017 03:10 pm

In response to the executive order enacted by President Donald Trump denying immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a push to declare State University of New York campuses as "sanctuary schools" that began in early December has resurged. Now, with Trump's seal of approval, immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen comes to a halt, although this order has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. This is similar to former President Barack Obama's restrictions on visa approvals from these countries, but since this is a ban, it has resulted in protests at airports across the nation.


Not only this, but students hailing from these seven countries can be detained or refused the option to return home freely. While the political atmosphere is stressful, we at The Stylus cannot imagine, but do deeply empathize with, the tension and discomfort these students must be experiencing. It should not be difficult to imagine how troubling it must be to be denied reentry into the United States after visiting one's family, only to find you cannot resume your studies based on your dual-citizenship or religion.

It's safe to say that college students have enough on their plates without worrying about whether they or people they know are at risk of being deported.


The petition to deem SUNY colleges as "sanctuary schools" would provide affected students with protections from such situations. Colleges would be allowed to deny the release of potentially incriminating information regarding a student's citizenship status, as well as protect international students from persecution.


SUNY New Paltz became the first to publically consider become a sanctuary school, the idea forming from within its sociology department to take steps which would take a stand for some of its most vulnerable students. While no updates on its status have been reported on by the New Paltz Oracle, educators still have hope in the wake of Governor Cuomo's stance on New York's value as a place of radical acceptance. With the idea of sanctuary cities and schools becoming prevalent in recent media coverage, people began asking if Rochester was going to make a move. As it turns out, Rochester has been a sanctuary city since 1986.


There is no longer any effective way to argue against the racism and xenophobia ingrained in the policies that are our first taste of the Trump administration.


While concern over acts of terror have shot up exponentially over the past two decades, to put such an extreme ban into place will only validate the beliefs of those who condemn the Middle-East for the actions of few, not many. It should be noted that, according to a study cited by TIME, white extremists have committed more acts of terror in the United States than have Jihadists associated with radical Islam. Historically, it is probably safe to say that such a travel ban will do little to improve U.S. relations with the countries involved. It would perhaps be in the best interest of the president of the U.S. to do his best to heal relationships with these nations instead.


It takes a certain kind of malevolence to victimize a refugee, someone who, by virtue, is a victim of circumstance and unspeakable unsafety. If the U.S. government fails in its duty of governing under our consent, it is our hope at The Stylus that the privileged institutions within the SUNY system take it upon themselves to pledge against xenophobic ideals which have become law. Such a step would not only protect students, but it would be a move towards a region-wide announcement of acceptance for all Muslim students, Arab students and refugees. We must all prepare to adjust to an era where backwards views have more weight than cultivated human values.


As but one piece in the SUNY system, The College at Brockport should form a petition to achieve sanctuary school status. It is in everyone's best interest for us to welcome all students, the word "all" being the key here - nowhere in these three letters can evidence of exceptions be found.


SUNY prides itself in being an institution of opportunity. The Stylus supports all students who yearn for an education without interruption. From our college and our government we ask only for acceptance of all peoples. There is a light in this bleak predicament: the outpouring of support for Muslims, be they citizens or not, has brought out many to stand in solidarity.

 

This executive travel ban should not be tolerated at Brockport, as the very essence of the U.S. is to be a place where "the tired, poor, huddled masses" can breathe free. No one should be forced to forfeit their education, nor their sense of home, safety or of self.