Protesters demand University reverses sanctuary campus decision


Photo Courtesy of Kait McIntyre

A protest took place during a Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago on Thursday, Jan. 19th.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

About 40 protesters urged the University to reverse the decision to not declare the University as a sanctuary campus outside of the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago on Thursday. Establishing the University as a sanctuary would essentially promise to ignore federal immigration policies and protect the privacy of its students. Student and Graduate Activists, an activist group at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Service Employees International Union, Local 73, organized the rally.

President Timothy Killeen sent a massmail to students in December saying the University could not establish itself as a sanctuary because as a public institution, it must uphold state and federal laws. Doing so could “jeopardize our institution,” including public funding, he wrote.

The University’s decision came one day after students presented a petition to Chancellor Robert Jones at an academic senate meeting urging the University to declare itself as a sanctuary campus. In response, activists decided to bring their demands to the Board of Trustees.

“We just want to make sure the University is a safe space for all students, especially undocumented students who obviously face a myriad of social oppression and dangers living here,” Kait McIntyre, a 2011 UIC graduate and one of Student and Graduate Activists’ organizers, said Thursday over the phone.

Once the meeting started, protesters went inside and held signs that read “Sanctuary Campus Now.” McIntyre and Joe Padilla, junior at UIC, addressed the Board of Trustees during the public comment section. They said undocumented students were too afraid to approach the board itself because of the University’s decision.

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McIntyre listed six demands for the University: to restrict collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement; to condemn all forms of racism and hate speech; to respond and investigate any hate crimes on campus and act in the fullest extent of the law; to continue to protect student privacy; to provide confidential legal counseling and continue to provide in-state tuition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students; and to ensure campus police officers do not inquire into students’ immigration status or engage in any immigration enforcement action.

She hopes the University acts on the demands and reverses its sanctuary campus decision. Student and Graduate Activists has worked with UIC’s Fearless and Undocumented Alliance, which is set to meet with Killeen on Thursday.

From there, Student and Graduate Activists will plan its next move.