To the Campus Community:
I share the deep concern of many in our campus community over the recent actions of the new White House administration. While we are diligently monitoring changes in policies and practices of the new administration, I want to focus on what we have been doing at CSUN, and more importantly, what many of our lawmakers in California have been doing. Our California lawmakers are proactively countering the President’s immigration orders as they relate to Californians, in particular our Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other undocumented students.
More than 600 presidents of universities in the United States, including myself, have signed a letter of opposition to any changes to the DACA program, as well as a letter of support for the proposed Bridge Act that would provide additional legal protections for DACA students. We are also working with our state and federal officials to advocate for DACA students, international students and Muslim students, all of whom have been unfairly targeted by either new or proposed Executive Orders from the President. This past weekend brought even more concern as Executive Orders related to immigrants and refugees from seven countries were targeted.
On a more reassuring front, I encourage you to appreciate and support the work that is being done by Governor Jerry Brown, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, California Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, and many others to pass urgent state legislation. These proposed laws would essentially stall any new federal immigration enforcement policies or actions in courts for a very long time. Mayor Eric Garcetti has been actively vocal on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. ACLU, immigration and civil rights attorneys from all across the country have been working day and night to challenge the new administration’s orders throughout the weekend and will continue. They have been successful to date.
We must continue as a campus community to stand together and stay strong as we navigate the most incredible threat to our core values I have ever witnessed. U.S. universities (faculty, students and staff) have a history of taking leadership positions in times of social unrest (recall civil rights and anti-Vietnam War efforts). After conferring with many other university presidents from across the country in the past week, I am confident we will again need to be visible and vocal, and we will not be alone in our efforts.
CSUN is hosting a second Town Hall on post-election issues on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at noon in the USU Northridge Center. While I seriously regret my absence for this important campus conversation, as president I must represent CSUN at the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday and Wednesday with all 23 CSU presidents, the Chancellor and the Trustees, all of whom are concerned about our students’ well being. I hope you can be there to join Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins and other campus student, faculty and administrative leaders as we navigate these uncertain times together.
Please understand, I will continue to fight for the rights of all of our students and everyone in our campus community. To quote from some of the protesters this past week in L.A., “Let’s make it clear immigrants are welcome here.” I would add, let’s make it clear, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and all faiths are welcome here. Let’s make it clear the LGBTQI community is welcome here. Diversities in color, ethnicitiy, gender, religion, and yes, politics, are welcome here. Hate and ignorance are not.
Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.
California State University, Northridge