By Ellen Garnett
On Monday, a food service worker and student allies made their voices heard in support of a sanctuary campus at Simmons College in meetings with Chief of Staff to the President
Lynda Connolly and the general manager of the food service company at Simmons. The group is in collaboration with UNITE HERE Local 26, the same Boston-based labor union responsible for the success of Harvard University Dining Services workers first strike in the last 30 years for better wages and healthcare.
This meeting continues the conversation of making Simmons a sanctuary campus, which means a refuge from President-elect Trump’s proposed immigration policy of mass deportations. Simmons joins the sanctuary movement among college campuses across the nation in 2016. Colleges on the west coast including Stanford University, and on the east coast, including Simmons’ neighbors at Tufts University and University of Massachusetts Amherst, are speaking up.
Before the meeting, conversations and a petition were already underway regarding Simmons becoming a sanctuary campus. President Helen Drinan sent out an email on December 1 addressing this issue by outlining the ways the College is currently protecting immigrant workers and students.
These ways included but were not limited to, “Confirming that Simmons Public Safety Officers do not enforce immigration laws or participate with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in their work,” and “Declining to provide private information to government agents unless compelled to do so by a valid warrant, subpoena, or a judicial order, and only then after the determination of our legal obligations to comply by our General Counsel and external legal advisors.”
However, President Drinan also states in her email that the Simmons College Board of Trustees sought legal advice to better address the question of a sanctuary campus. In the meantime, student allies urge the administration to take action before the inauguration on January 20 in anticipation of the new president’s harsh immigration policies.
Their points of interest echoed those in President Drinan’s email, highlighting the importance to “Uphold and expand [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] DACA & [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents] DAPA to honor immigrant dreamers and their families,” and to “Make our workplaces sanctuaries for all by keeping ICE out unless they have a warrant.”
Winter break is right around the corner, which makes taking action tough for all parties involved. The Voice will continue providing updates on Simmons’ response to sanctuary efforts.