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University needs to show greater solidarity with undocumented students

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NOVEMBER 29, 2016

It shouldn’t take the election of a ding-dong to spur the campus to provide more support for undocumented students. Since before the election, these students have called on the University of California to provide more support amid an often hostile campus climate and systemic hurdles.

In fact, just before the election, an op-ed published in the New York Times by undocumented UC Berkeley student and former The Daily Californian staff member Juan Prieto decried the campus’s lack of resources while also criticizing certain members of the UC administration. Students have also blocked Sather Gate on busy days, working tirelessly to give their cause momentum.

Such calls for greater attention from the university unfortunately fell short of providing the impetus for lasting change. Donald Trump’s election, however, created a movement to establish the UC system as a sanctuary university, which would provide greater protections for undocumented students who face potential deportation.

The election results, in thrusting the undocumented community into uncertainty and fear, warrant a serious reaction. Trump’s election is one symptom of a larger problem: decadeslong backlash to immigration that has deprived the undocumented community of basic resources and respect. But nothing changes the fact that even before the election, undocumented students routinely expressed a need for greater support.

Establishing the University of California as a sanctuary university and ensuring that undocumented UC students remain in place is necessary, but it does not go far enough. If UC officials are serious about keeping Trump’s policies at bay in their system, it would behoove them to continue working toward improvements needed long before he won the electoral vote.

True support comes in the form of more open dialogue. UC officials at every level can use calls to create a sanctuary campus as an opportunity to understand exactly what the undocumented community wants and needs in the face of the election and beyond.

Progress on this front is impossible without creating open conversations directly between administrators and the undocumented community.

It’s easy to release a statement voicing support for DACA, such as the one signed by multiple UC chancellors in the past week. It’s much harder to provide resources to undocumented student programs that make sure the population has more support. But that’s the work the Berkeley campus and the UC system need to be doing.

The fact that the stakes are now higher than ever for undocumented students only makes it more urgent that officials include students in conversations.

During the election, Trump consistently spewed incendiary rhetoric that targeted undocumented immigrants. The fact that the vile man is now destined for the White House does not change the hateful nature of his words, and the university must strongly condemn any attempts to expel its undocumented population.

While the university has an obligation to be nonpartisan, so as to ensure an unbiased education, it certainly can and should step into public conversations when it must protect the needs of its students, regardless of immigration status.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

NOVEMBER 29, 2016