Greetings to all members of the SOU community
I am writing to you from Guanajuato, Mexico, where SOU has enjoyed a sister-university partnership for 50 years with the Universidad de Guanajuato. I have been reminded in meetings with my counterparts at our sister university, and with officials from the City of Guanajuato, of what a warm and lasting collaboration we enjoy.
The U.S. began a relationship just over five years ago with a group of young immigrants who entered our country as minors. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy now protects almost 800,000 students and others who grew up in the U.S. and are determined to build their lives there, but lack the legal documentation to remain.
You have likely heard by now that President Trump will end DACA’s protections in six months, unless Congress acts to shield this group of young people from deportation.
I want to assure you that SOU’s commitment to all of its students – including those who have been protected by DACA – supersedes politics. We are obliged as an institute of higher learning to safeguard the ability of each student on our campus – regardless of immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation or political persuasion – to pursue his or her educational dreams.
SOU will continue to protect the privacy of all students, respect the value that their differences bring to our campus and accommodate the needs of those who face obstacles in their academic paths. We will resist immigration enforcement at SOU without legal compulsion or evidence of imminent risk to public safety.
Oregon law prevents SOU or any state agency from assisting with the investigation or apprehension of those whose only offense is their lack of immigration documentation. U.S. education privacy laws require that we maintain the confidentiality of students’ information, including their immigration status.
SOU is among the hundreds of colleges, universities and higher education organizations around the country that support the continuation of DACA protections. While we await Congressional action on this issue, students who feel they may be directly impacted by the changing DACA policy may contact Unete, a Medford-based advocacy center for farm workers and immigrants, at (541) 245-1625.
The bonds of friendship between SOU and Universidad de Guanajuato can be felt in every greeting and every hug I have received here. Faculty and administrators told me repeatedly today that it is those bonds that will ultimately prevail. Goodness, kindness and a spirit of determined cooperation will help us overcome our obstacles, regardless of scope or scale. Let us remain strong in our support of each other and in our commitment to education for all who seek it.
President, Southern Oregon University