With less than a month left before President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, Barnard President Debora Spar announced the college's commitment to supporting its undocumented students.
In an email sent to the Barnard community on Thursday afternoon, Spar said the college would continue providing financial support to its undocumented students and any confidential records for undocumented students would not be released to federal enforcement agents without a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order. Public Safety officers would also not "involve themselves in federal immigration enforcement efforts by detaining or questioning any individual solely on the basis of immigration status," the email stated.
Last month, Columbia also announced that it would offer financial support and sanctuary for its undocumented students. Both University President Lee Bollinger and Spar had signed on to a letter along with other university and college presidents calling for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program to be upheld.
“These are complicated times for our nation and our College, but there is no doubt that the tenor of these times weighs more heavily on some,” Spar wrote. “Please join me in rejecting hatred and hostility and in attending to the needs of those who are most vulnerable. There is no better moment to embrace what we stand for and to strive, individually and as a community, to help build the kind of world we want to see.”
Read the statement in full below.
Dear Members of the Barnard Community,
As we await the start of a new year-a time when we strive to look ahead with renewed optimism and hope-there is no doubt that the tone on campus and across the country is tinged with concern for the future. How might potential changes in federal law and policy affect us and our students? And how can we, as an institution of higher learning, best deploy our resources to contribute to the well-being of our community, our country, and our world?
These are questions that the Barnard community has been grappling with, and for which there are no easy answers. On December 20, I received a petition signed by over 350 members of the faculty, staff, alumnae and students calling on Barnard to reaffirm its commitment to values of tolerance, diversity, inclusion, educational opportunity, and academic freedom, and to reiterate its commitment to the protection and empowerment of all members of our community. I appreciate this collective voice and want to reiterate that Barnard will always remain committed to these core values. They are, as ever, essential to our work and lie at the very heart of our mission.
It is also critical that we continue to provide a range of support for any member of our community who might face threats to their safety and security as a result of their identity or immigration status. As we look closely at the resources we already provide, we are open to exploring ways to build in additional support.
In November, along with fellow college and university presidents, I signed a statement calling for the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and in support of our undocumented immigrant students. The statement was clear in its message: "To our country's leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded."
Still, in light of the multitude of concerns, I want to reiterate that Barnard remains dedicated to protecting the privacy and safety of our entire campus community. We will continue to abide by our long-held privacy policies and, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), will never release confidential student records without judicial warrant, subpoena or court order, unless authorized by the student or otherwise required by law. If, for any reason, federal enforcement agencies come to campus, we will ensure that they comply with the letter of the law. And we will not ask our own public safety officers to involve themselves in federal immigration enforcement efforts by detaining or questioning any individual solely on the basis of immigration status.
Barnard's undocumented students currently receive 100% financial support from private donors. Should the number of undocumented students on our campus increase, we will strive to provide that same level of support, and we will do all that we can to make these students feel and believe that they have a home here. We also encourage the use of available campus resources for all of our students and the community at-large. Among them:
- Furman Counseling Center: https://www.barnard.edu/counsel, 212.854.2092
- Well-Woman: https://www.barnard.edu/wellwoman, 212.854.3063
- Title IX and Equity: https://www.barnard.edu/doc/titleix, 212.854.0037
- Ombuds Office: https://www.barnard.edu/ombuds, 212.853.1352
Above all, the College remains steadfast in its commitment to creating and maintaining an atmosphere that respects, without qualification, each and every member of our community. That has been central to Barnard's mission from the start and it is vital that we continue to do all we can to care for one another, on campus and off. To this end, we encourage everyone to report anything that they see or hear that stands in violation of our Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment: https://barnard.edu/doc/titleiX/nondiscrimination. I can assure you that all reports will be taken seriously.
These are complicated times for our nation and our College, but there is no doubt that the tenor of these times weighs more heavily on some. Please join me in rejecting hatred and hostility and in attending to the needs of those who are most vulnerable. There is no better moment to embrace what we stand for and to strive, individually and as a community, to help build the kind of world we want to see.