January 26, 2017

National SDS Supports Sanctuary Campuses


National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) expresses our strongest support for sanctuary campuses, and reaffirms our commitment to standing in solidarity with the undocumented and Muslim communities in their struggle against racist immigration and registration laws. More than twenty-five campuses have declared themselves sanctuaries following the election. SDS chapters from Salt Lake City to St Pete are currently waging campaigns to demand university administrations declare their campus a sanctuary amidst Trump's anti-immigrant policy proposals.

Already under President Obama, a record number of human beings were expelled from this country. When you combine the number of immigrants detained at the borders with the number of people that were removed from within the United States, President Obama oversaw the deportation of more than 2.5 million people. This number will only increase under Donald Trump’s administration, making the struggle in support of undocumented families more important than ever before. The Arab and Muslim registry Trump has promised to implement also represents an intensification of profiling and targeting that existed under previous presidents — most notably in the form of Bill Clinton’s National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. Students have a crucial role to play in supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities against these growing threats.

Universities have long been key sites of resistance against racist laws, and there is an important history of student organizing to keep law enforcement off of our campuses. As early as the 1850s, for example, students and university workers in the North came together to protect formerly-enslaved African Americans from would-be slave catchers on campuses such as Oberlin, Western Reserve College, and Illinois College. Later, during the notorious internment of Japanese families during World War II, students organized at more than fifteen universities across the country to create sanctuaries and safe havens, where vulnerable community members of Japanese descent could be free from harassment, detention, and internment. During the Vietnam War, students across the country also came together to hide and protect draft resisters. Members of the City College of New York chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, for example, continued to shelter fugitive draftees even in the face of arrests and other forms of repression. In raising the demand for sanctuary campuses, we as students are taking our place in this historic struggle; a struggle for campus communities bound together in solidarity, that refuse to allow racist laws to tear them apart.

Historically, colleges didn't have their own police forces until administrations pushed for them after the powerful student protests against racism and war in the '60s. Campus police are not about protecting students, they are about protecting the financial interests of wealthy administrators by preventing organized resistance to systemic oppression.  College and high-school based police are using high levels of aggressive force against students, including tasers, pepper spray, and assaults. Abundant research shows having police in schools does nothing to reduce crime, contributes to an atmosphere of fear, and is at the center of criminalization of non-white students in particular.  

By refusing to allow ICE and other agencies of state repression access to our classrooms, dorms, cafeterias, libraries, and places of worship, we are fighting in solidarity with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. We should demand that administrations proactively defend undocumented people and their identities. As students, we are in a position to organize and put direct pressure on university administrations not to collaborate with ICE, Muslim registries, or any other form of racist targeting and discrimination. These kinds of campaigns win real protections for students, workers, and families, and are a necessary form of resistance against unjust laws that are rooted in white supremacy, racism, and Islamophobia.

Every city a sanctuary city! Every campus a sanctuary campus!
No walls, no deportations, no Muslim registration!