March 25, 2019 | 50° F

Barchi: 'Rutgers University stands together with all our students'

Photo by Jason Ye |

Members of the Rutgers community wrote a petition to University President Robert L. Barchi and the chancellors of the New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses asking them to make Rutgers a "sanctuary campus." In an open letter, Barchi said the University would protect its students' privacy, unless ordered to provide information by law or court order.

On Tuesday, students and faculty members released a petition for administrators to make Rutgers a sanctuary campus for marginalized groups.

The document was addressed to University President Robert L. Barchi and chancellors from the New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses. It outlined 11 actions the University should take in order to protect minorities and undocumented students. 

Less than 24 hours after the original petition’s release on social media, Barchi released an email saying the University would "stand together with all our students," as well as prioritize student safety.

"We will protect student confidentiality and will not share private information unless required by law or a court order," he said. "We expect all persons associated with the University to protect student privacy and confidentiality, as well."

Barchi’s email addressed several of the concerns mentioned in the petition. He said student confidentiality would be protected, the University would not use e-verify as a basis for student housing and Rutgers would keep students safe from deportation.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy characterizes colleges and universities, like Rutgers, as ‘sensitive locations,’ places where, in the normal course, enforcement actions should not occur unless extraordinary circumstances exist," Barchi said in the e-mail.

Of the 11 actions outlined in the petition, the email addressed approximately half of them, either directly or indirectly.

The continued availability of in-state tuition for immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act was not mentioned in the email.

While the original petition was a collaborative effort, its primary author is Carlos Decena, chair of the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and a professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. 

“I, as well as the other folks who are involved in developing the petition, have ideas which we have drawn from what’s going on in the country,” Decena said. “We know there are limitations to what can be done, but we also have to stand strong by our Muslim students, our female students, our students with disabilities and other folks of color at this university.”

Decena said It should be a priority for students and faculty to support and protect undocumented students. Most of the measures on the petition are dedicated to ensuring undocumented students retaining support from the University.

“This is anticipating what might happen under a (Donald) Trump presidency but this is not fundamentally about Trump,” Decena said. “This is about how our university relates to our student population and particularly our most vulnerable students. This is about protecting minorities and walking the walk with this University’s representation of diversity.”

The American Association of University Professors posted the Sanctuary petition on Facebook, and has since been shared on more than 60 pages.

Prior to the distribution of Barchi’s email, Decena said he hoped to deliver the petition to administrators within the next few days.

The petition to “Make Rutgers a Sanctuary University” is not directly affiliated with the walkout campus organizers are scheduling for tomorrow afternoon. But Decena said both are fueled by a similar coalition of students and faculty, and both operate towards complementary goals.

“I think that the leadership of the University can and should do its due diligence in figuring out what can be done," he said. "That is what we, as a community, are pushing for."

Kira Herzog is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.

Kira Herzog

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