COMMENTARY: Administration should be neutral on DACA
In September, President Donald J. Trump’s announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that would allow undocumented immigrants “who came to the United States as children and (met) several guidelines (to) request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” startled the Rutgers community. Chancellor Debasish Dutta and President Robert L. Barchi, in wake of his decision, sent out several emails to all Rutgers students condemning the president’s actions on Sept. 5. In the emails, both the chancellor and the president actively encouraged Rutgers students to support an amended version of the BRIDGE Act that will allow an extended stay for those protected by DACA, providing links that will generate a letter to be sent to the writer’s respective house representative and senator. As officials of a publicly funded university, their statements were inappropriate and partisan. Before I begin, I do not agree with Trump’s suggestion to overthrow DACA. While the United States should have stronger immigration policies, punishing the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants does little to remedy the problem. Many of them came to the United States without a say and do not deserve to be deported due to the actions of their parents. It is needlessly cruel and seems to be an attempt for Trump to flex his political prowess on his Democratic opponents.
However, the implications of Barchi’s and Dutta’s actions are Orwellian. At what point does one draw the line between helping the community and spouting your own political beliefs? These men are representative of all students at Rutgers University and should remain politically neutral when it comes to controversial topics such as this. A more appropriate action would be to contact the students directly affected by this action and offer them legal counseling and other resources. At the conclusion of his second email, Barchi emphasized that his call to action was “entirely optional” and would never tell students what to do in regards to “legislative advocacy.” Yet, his actions speak louder. By announcing in your first email that you will be sending a second, separate email detailing the steps students can take to support a piece of legislation, you are actively encouraging students to support a bill. Especially as president, he should be more aware of the impact and ramifications of his actions. If this kind of behavior continues unchecked, sooner or later the chancellor and president may be sending out emails endorsing candidates for office.
If Rutgers students see an injustice, they will come together on their own terms. This was evident in wake of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, a disgusting and anachronistic display of racial pride and pro-Nazism that led to the senseless death of Heather Heyer. The Rutgers Class of 2021 Facebook page created a petition denouncing the actions in Virginia and was signed by incoming first-years, current students and faculty. In the face of bigotry, Rutgers students came together out of their own volition. Therefore, the president and chancellor need not give the students any prompting when it comes to these issues.
The evident left-leaning positions the heads of Rutgers University put on display demonstrate continued marginalization of not only conservative and libertarian students but those who do not conform to popular politics on college campuses. Rutgers touts its promise of diversity but fails to recognize the importance of intellectual diversity: the diversity of opinions. The beauty of Rutgers, and consequently America, is that open discussion about issues is a right given to us by the First Amendment. Lately, American society has amounted itself to groupthink in favor of generally left-leaning principles and against right-leaning ones, so much so where if one deviates from this mentality they are ostracized from social circles or fired from their jobs. It is disheartening to see Rutgers slowly become an echo chamber of an ideology that directly and indirectly shuns those who do not conform to it.
When Dutta and Barchi decide to address the Rutgers community in light of future political events, I would hope that they keep in mind all Rutgers students.
Giana Castelli is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science.
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