*November 13, 2016
Dear President Botstein,
In the wake of the presidential election and this increasingly hostile era in American politics, undocumented people in the United States have become particularly vulnerable. President-elect Trump has promised to abolish DACA which has provided measures of relief from deportation to over 700,000 students in the United States. There is now heightened urgency for colleges and universities to make a commitment to protecting these students. In joining with the calls to action from students across the country, we ask that Bard College be declared a sanctuary campus.
On November 11th at “The World Turned Upside Down: A Dialogue with Mark Danner and President Botstein,” you, President Botstein, made a public declaration that you would make Bard College a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. You cited your own status as an immigrant and noted a particular interest in protecting the undocumented students already enrolled in the Bard High School Early Colleges. This letter is to demonstrate that we—the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of Bard College—are behind you in this effort and will hold you to your promise.
We strongly urge that you develop a specific protocol for making Bard College a sanctuary campus, and we have compiled specific protections that would help bring this promise to fruition. To begin, admissions should work to change the language of Bard’s applications so that undocumented students may apply as domestic students rather than international students, as well as include a separate page on the admissions website outlining Bard’s policy towards undocumented students. We also suggest that the administration make a public declaration that Bard College will remain committed to undocumented students and their safety, and direct fundraising efforts at creating scholarships for undocumented students. Furthermore, we believe it is imperative that faculty, staff, and admissions be trained on the specific needs of undocumented students. In order to ensure undocumented students’ safety, we urge that police be removed from campus and ICE be banned from ever entering. Finally, we suggest that an effort is extended to provide opportunities—employment or otherwise—to undocumented people and families in the immediate area so that they may be protected by Bard College’s status as sanctuary.
We are not merely asking for a statement of support or sympathy for this cause; we are asking for concrete action. Bard College prides itself on being an institution of higher learning that operates in the public good and actively works towards the realization of its ideals. Making Bard a sanctuary campus will honor these commitments, while also extending its history of providing refuge for those seeking freedom. We urge you to immediately develop a protocol for making Bard College a sanctuary campus. Doing so will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Bard remains a private institution for the public good and actively protects the safety of all members of our community.
*Sanctuary Fund has since been set up by Bard’s Alum and Working Groups to provide room+board for incoming undocumented students, donate here