Opinion: Sanctuary campus would uphold Kent State ideals

Bobbie Szabo

Bobbie Szabo

Kent State has a student-first approach to education and administration. The university’s support of diversity, equity and inclusion is unparalleled by other institutions of the same capacity.

After the President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” was enacted, Kent State President Beverly Warren emailed a statement to all faculty, staff and students:

“The faculty and staff of Kent State University affirm our longstanding commitment to be a welcoming, inclusive environment where all feel at home. That commitment does not change as political or social movements change. Our values define who we are and what we stand for … ”

Kent State’s administration is always searching for ways to improve the student experience and to make our campus more of a community; one of the most effective ways to do so in light of current political events would be to make Kent State a sanctuary campus.

Although the immigration and refugee ban has been suspended, individuals from the seven countries affected by the ban are not in the clear. Kent State had 2,913 international students enrolled during Fall 2016, representing 109 different countries — several of which were affected by the ban. One such Kent doctoral student was stuck in Canada after being refused entrance into the United States because of the executive order. Another student will not be able to see his family after four long years of studying, as his family will be unable to receive visas to attend his graduation.

These are our people. They are our community members and it is our duty to protect them from the unjust actions of those in positions of power in our country.

Becoming a sanctuary campus is not out of the realm of possibilities. Kent State has already laid the groundwork for such actions through its previous and unwavering support of the international community.

The university policy regarding equal opportunity states: “ … there shall be no unlawful discrimination against any student or applicant for admission as a student because of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, military status, or identity as a veteran with a disability or veteran of the Vietnam era.”

Administration has always made efforts to listen to students, and, based on the sanctuary campus petition circulating, students want this to happen. The petition, which was created by the Student Power Coalition, has been signed by over 650 students, faculty, staff members and student organizations in only half a month. Its popularity shows no signs of slowing down – it’s only gaining momentum.

Now is the time to uphold that policy allowing equal opportunity to students regardless their national origin. Now is the time to fully dedicate ourselves to what makes Kent State special. Now is the time to prove what we stand for.

Bobbie Szabo is a columnist, contact her at [email protected]