December 9, 2016
Dear Vassar Students, Faculty, and Staff,
In recent weeks questions have arisen on many U.S. college campuses about how best to support students who may feel vulnerable under policies being considered by the incoming presidential administration. In particular, there has been extensive conversation about undocumented students and the value of declaring campuses to be sanctuaries of higher education, supporting the rights and well-being of students regardless of immigration or citizenship status.
Last month, I signed a statement, now endorsed by over 500 college and university presidents, that calls on elected and incoming government officials to continue to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to expand it in the future. Under this executive action taken by the Obama administration, many students have been able to pursue higher education in this country free from fear of deportation.
Two weeks ago, I received a petition, signed by more than 2000 students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i, urging the College to take further steps to support our students. The petition calls on the College to be “a place that values and protects all members,” a request fully in line with the College’s mission, policies, and commitments.
Embracing the spirit of this petition, I confirm that Vassar will:
- refuse to release citizenship or immigration status information about any student unless legally compelled to do so by a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other lawful directive;
- not take voluntary action that would put any students at risk based on their citizenship or immigration status;
- consider applications for admission submitted by undocumented or DACA students on the same basis as applications from any other applicants;
- meet the full, demonstrated financial need of undocumented or DACA students admitted to Vassar following the same aid packaging policies as for U.S. citizens or permanent residents;
- provide training opportunities for members of the campus community to learn how to advise, mentor, and serve undocumented students effectively;
- maintain support structures and information at Vassar to help undocumented students connect to resources, including external resources such as the Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Own the Dream; and
- continue to work with other academic and community leaders to advocate for the extension and renewal of the DACA policies.
Finally, I want to thank the signers of the petition. Your call for mutual support, full inclusion, dignity, and respect for all members of the Vassar community is a resounding affirmation of the College’s values.