EDITORIAL: Barchi taking sides brings up questions
Administration should refrain from stance on non-student issues
On Jan. 29, University President Robert L. Barchi sent an email to the student body reminding it of the approaching date of termination for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which as of right now is , 2018. DACA is meant to protect young, undocumented students brought to this country at a young age from deportation and allow them to continue their education.
In the email, Barchi clearly stated his support of DACA and his will to keep it in effect, and urged others to do the same, stating, “If you share my concern about making permanent these protections, I’d like to ask you to join me one more time, for one last push to save DACA.” His side-taking in this email was no doubt a problem to some. The people of Rutgers likely have a variety of views with regard to this issue, and it may seem unfair for the most powerful figure in the University’s administration to take a specific and blatant stance.
This brings up an interesting question: when is it okay for the University president to take an explicit stance on a partisan issue? Well, presumably not often. After all, that is not the administration’s job. But when it comes to issues pertaining to students, things seem to change a bit. DACA’s existence and purpose is directly related to students. By advocating for the continuation of DACA, the president and the administration are protecting their students — their livelihood. These people are enrolled at Rutgers, taking classes, contributing to the community and as long as they are students and refraining from harming others and disrupting the institution, it’s reasonable for the administration to advocate for them. In fact, it should be seen as one of the University’s obligations.
Some, then, would argue that the DACA students and their families being here without documentation is a crime in and of itself, and that the University should not work to protect criminals. We know people who hold these ideas are among us in our community, as we saw last semester when flyers calling for “white Americans” to do their civic duty and report all “illegal aliens” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement were found on the . The flyers continued on to state that “illegal aliens” are criminals. One might then ask: if the University is protecting these criminals, then why don’t they protect others? The answer there is simple — DACA is enacted under the law enabling executive orders, and recipients of it are not breaking any. DACA students are here in good faith not only because they want to be, but because they have to be. It is a of DACA that a recipient cannot be a criminal.
Additionally, these students didn’t choose to be here — the choice was made for them in a way. They are simply trying to live their own life, just like all other Rutgers students. We are a society of laws, but naturally sometimes a bit of leeway is necessary. Also, for what it’s worth, it seems apparent that there is much more unrest with regard to students advocating on campus for the extension of DACA than for its termination — so much so that the other views on the issue are almost drowned out.
All in all, there’s no reason that this cannot be a bipartisan issue. As long as we have good people on both sides, why should Democrats and Republicans not be able to negotiate both ways reasonably while still doing what seems morally right — allowing for these students to continue on with their education and reach for the American Dream.
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