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Drake University president declares institution a "sanctuary campus"

Drake University Marty Martin accepted the campus' Faculty Senate recommendation to make the institution a "sanctuary campus."

As concern grows for the future of support for undocumented immigrants, some university officials are taking a stand in protecting their own students.

Drake University President Marty Martin sent an email to faculty, staff and students saying the campus "will be a sanctuary - “a place of refuge or safety” - for undocumented members of our community who now find themselves under heightened threat of investigation and deportation by the federal government. Our commitment to supporting these vulnerable students, colleagues, and friends has been clear for some time and has only intensified over the last three weeks. The inspiration and energy we draw from the diversity of our community makes us stronger. We are not willing to give this up."

This comes after the university's Faculty Senate adopted a resolution, pressing campus administration “to declare the University a sanctuary for undocumented members of the Drake community and to affirm our commitment to protect immigrants from unfair deportation, investigation, or other intimidation based on their immigration status.”

Martin is also one of more than 400 college presidents urging the nation's leaders to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows undocumented immigrants who came into the country as minors live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

"We will do whatever we can within the law to support our students," Venessa Macro, chief administration officer, said.

Macro said this action shows how administrators within higher education understand the concern of students. She says the institution doesn't share information without authorization, including citizenship dtails.

"Schools are a special place," she said. "A place that (ICE) won't go for enforcement activity. One of the things we want to do is make sure that continues to be the case."

Associate professor of sociology and Faculty Senate member Darcie Vandegrift says by making Drake a "sanctuary campus," it upholds the university's mission to build successful students.

"Given some of the rumors of ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) or a dramatic policy shift and how young people who are unauthorized immigrants will be treated, becoming sort of a voluntary arm of immigration enforcement goes against everything that we represent as an institution," she said.

That's why she hopes this action will show Drake, that no matter what, it will stand by the members of its community.

"I think that this is also a new topic for some folks," she said. "That thinking about how the lives of undocumented students at Drake and future undocumented students who will come here will be affected by this was a new topic for some people."

Martin's email said the Drake Legal Aid Clinic will also hold a panel on Dec. 6 focusing on legal issues affecting the immigrant community and that the institution is already working on getting additional counseling resources as well.


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