Protecting students

California looks to shield the marginalized

Kimberly Stelly, kstelly@lmcexperience.com

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Earlier this month, California’s Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom called on the state’s college institutions to make their campuses sanctuaries for their undocumented students. The Sanctuary movement has been considered by many of this state’s schools including Los Medanos College.
In a letter sent to the heads of Cal State, University of California and two chancellors from the community college systems, Newsom expressed that many students are concerned about their citizenship since Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
Contra Costa College District Chancellor Dr. Helen Benjamin mentioned in an email that employees in this district have been discussing the process of turning LMC, DVC and CCC into sanctuary campuses. She also mentioned a meeting, taking place in which further talks about creating a sanctuary district would be discussed in more depth. The topic also came up in a student LMC Student Senate meeting Monday, Nov. 28, where students have also voiced their opinions.
LMC English Instructor Laurie Huffman who has been approached by members of the Hispanic community said “A compromise to the security and success of any student on this campus is unacceptable — deportation being one of the most threatening under this new administration.”
Huffman has longtime experience working with the community. Since the ‘70s, she’s been working to “create a safe and equitable space where the undocumented can easily and successfully access community support systems, education and legal assistance.”
In addition to assisting students with concerns about their citizenships and immigration status, the CCCCD aims to protect other minority students including Muslims from the impending policies enacted by the Trump administration.
“If we fail to act in the face of President-Elect Trump’s stated priorities relative to deportation and the treatment of Muslims, the guiding values that we have affirmed regarding diversity, social justice, and inclusive excellence in the Contra Costa Community College District will appear to have been little more than empty rhetoric,” reads a petition addressed to members of the CCCCD District Governing Board.
Over 100 LMC faculty, students and alumni have signed as well as 205 from CCC and 29 from DVC.
According to the petition, the goals of the CCCCD are as follows
  • Affirm the District’s commitment to support and protect all of its students and workers, regardless of their citizenship status, religion, ethnicity or national origin
  • Take a stand against any federal registry of Muslim Americans and other targeted groups
  • Affirm current admission and financial aid policies regarding undocumented students
  • Create a District policy to not cooperate with federal ICE authorities regarding deportations or immigration raids and assure the entire District and its colleges that District Police will not engage in helping the federal government with deportations or with inquiries regarding the immigration status of students
  • Affirm the District’s commitment to create an atmosphere of respect by denouncing hate speech directed at students or employees, including immigrants, people of color, Muslims, individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ+ individuals, and by informing the college communities of existing resources for reporting and responding to bias or hate incidents
  • Provide strictly confidential counseling and legal services for undocumented students, DACA recipients, employees and their families.
In addition to these actions, the DACA forum held Nov. 17 was also part of the effort to inform students of their rights especially under Trump’s administration.
“Given the current and future student population at LMC of undocumented and DACA students it is the responsibility of our college to make certain this campus is a safe haven for all students,” said Huffman.
For more insight into the goals set by the CCCCD regarding these issues, the petition is available at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd-VlxxCfj9yl2iGMnDBAEZtomWrtU-3mvOhCHtAoSa4jYKxw/viewform.
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