Between fliers on campus calling for the arrest and torture of school officials, another flier about calling for the reporting of undocumented immigrants to authorities, both of which did not go through the process required to post fliers on campus, and a racially charged election and year, some students feel unsafe. This has led to discomfort and the circulation of a petition for President Trauth to proclaim Texas State University as a sanctuary campus.
Trauth has said Texas State will not be a sanctuary campus, so some departments are drafting resolutions to put extra precautions in place.
A sanctuary campus legally does not exist. Campuses that have declared themselves sanctuary campuses are in cities that have already declared themselves sanctuary cities. Neither of these terms currently have a legal definition.
Currently Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is in place as an executive order June 2012 which allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.
Trauth stated in her emails what the university does currently to protect students and university policy already aligns with some of the petitions requirements.
For Trauth to call Texas State a sanctuary campus would be an agreement to not comply with a court order, if that happened to occur.
However, individual departments are putting forward a resolution to increase what they do for their students to make them feel protected and included at a university that is now has an over 50% minority demographic.
Members of the history department brought forward a resolution Nov. 16 for the Faculty Senate to request “all practical action for, and assurances thereof from the university administration and the University Police Department, the preservation of faculty safety.”
The document’s language was drafted by associate professor Jeff Helgeson and further developed during a Nov. 11 History department meeting. It was shared with Faculty Senate the following week.
The resolution was drafted in response to instances of the verbal and physical harassment of students on campus and around town. It was also a response to fliers calling for the “arrest and torture” of school officials posted across campus Nov. 9.
Nearly a month later, fliers calling for students to report undocumented immigrants to authorities were found pinned to bulletin boards across campus on the morning of Dec.7, but it is unknown whether this is the work of the same group.
“There was a feeling that the faculty had a responsibility to respond to concerns that students were expressing to us,” said Jessica Pliley, associate professor in the History department. “Students have articulated fears about the campus environment.”
In response to these events, the university released official statements via email. The first email, entitled “Message from the President,” was sent at 5:51 p.m. Nov. 9. The second was sent at 2:46 p.m. the following day, but some faculty members have expressed that these emails did not address the issue of hate speech directly.
“Those statements did not condemn what needed to be condemned,” said Jose Carlos de la Puente, associate professor in the History department.
The second statement contained a reaffirmation of the university’s values, and stated that “actions such as pasting fliers to bathroom mirrors amount to criminal activity, and our university police are investigating these incidents.” Additionally, the contents of the email encouraged readers to report any information which might lead to the identification and arrest of persons responsible.
In response to the second instance of fliers, President Trauth released an email Dec. 7 stating, “the university, following current law, does not and will not report undocumented immigrants to authorities.”
Prior to its introduction to Faculty Senate, the History department’s resolution was emailed to the chairs of all other colleges within the Liberal Arts department. According to associate professor Elizabeth Bishop, the History department received 19 statements in support of the resolution and none opposing it from its own faculty.
The anthropology department unanimously supported the resolution. 14 individual statements of support were received from the Philosophy department, and six statements of support came from faculty members within the Psychology department.
All aforementioned indications of support were received by Nov. 15, and no statements opposing the spirit of the resolution have yet been received. The geography department drafted its own resolution, which has been sent to the Provost. Likewise, the English department has drafted its own resolution, which is available for public viewing on the department’s webpage.
Individual departments have the autonomy to speak as a collective, which enables them to release unanimously agreed-upon statements such as these. However, some faculty members believe there is value in asking upper administration to formally adopt the statement as well.
“Services like UPD, which serve the whole university community, report to the President, and the only way that we can communicate with her is to work through the Faculty Senate,” Bishop said. “If any statement is reviewed and approved by the Faculty Senate, it reaches the President with a very special formality. We want to have the opportunity to share our concerns and share the solution to our concerns with other departments in our college and other colleges within the university.”
The resolution is intended to encourage interdependence and collective security, Pliley said.
“The history department isn’t safe unless everybody in applied arts is safe, and nobody in the English department is comfortable until everybody in anthropology is secure,” Bishop said. “Security is not divisible within a community.”
The possibility of creating a sub-committee to further refine and develop the language in the resolution was discussed at the Nov. 16 Faculty Senate meeting.
One of the central actions in the resolution directs UPD to include the specific circumstances of physical assaults on campus in their emergency alert emails. Faculty members have expressed concern regarding what they perceive to be major inconsistencies in the reporting of on-campus crime.