COM's Commitment: Supporting ALL Students

December 12th, 2016 - 2:53pm

In the weeks since learning the outcome of the presidential election, many of us have had serious concerns about the wellbeing of our students. Further, I am aware that many of our students and their families are justifiably concerned about their futures and the possibility of being deported or torn apart from their loved ones. 

Let me assure you that the Marin Community College District (MCCD) stands resolutely with our sister colleges in the California Community Colleges system in reaffirming the following principles:

  • MCCD is open to all students who meet the minimum requirements for admission, regardless of immigration status. 
  • MCCD will not release any personally identifiable student information—including any data related to immigration status—without a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order unless authorized by the student or required by law. 
  • MCCD will continue to advocate for educational opportunities for all students in our community, regardless of immigration status, at the local, state, and federal level. 

As we respond to this situation we will embrace inclusiveness and diversity as core values of the California Community Colleges system. The following strategies are consistent with these values and will be strictly adhered to:

  • MCCD Police will not detain, question, or arrest any individual solely on the basis of suspected undocumented immigration status.
  • MCCD will not cooperate with any federal effort to create a registry of individuals based on any protected characteristics such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation.
  • Confidential student records will not be released without a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order unless authorized by the student or required by law.

I will be asking the District’s Board of Trustees to adopt a resolution to this effect in January.

Locally, the Marin County Office of Education is coordinating similar efforts among the 19 school districts in Marin County. I have also spoken with my colleague, the President of Dominican University of California, and we have committed to collaborating on behalf of our most vulnerable students. 

The Marin County Human Rights Commission recently called on the Board of Supervisors to:

  • REAFFIRM the right of all people residing or visiting Marin County to be free of discrimination and hate violence, whether verbal or physical.
  • PROHIBIT the enactment or use of a registry, surveillance, and monitoring based on characteristics of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
  • ENACT an ordinance requiring local law enforcement not to cooperate with ICE in seeking out and deporting residents that are not serving sentences for major crimes.
  • ASSEMBLE stakeholders, including local law enforcement, to prepare for Marin County’s response to a sudden federal shift in immigration policy. 

I applaud these efforts. I have asked Executive Director of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Christina Leimer, who also serves as a commissioner on the Human Rights Commission, to keep us apprised of local activities or opportunities for dialogue that focus on these issues. 

Further, I commend the leadership of the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges systems in coming together and sending a strong message to the president-elect. In a letter dated November 29, the leaders of our three systems formally asked the president-elect to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows children of undocumented immigrants to pursue higher education in the United States. 

The letter states, “The University of California, California State University, and the California Community College systems each have thousands of DACA students studying at our institutions. They are constructive and contributing members of our communities. They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn.”

My name is among more than 550 university and college presidents from across the nation who have signed a statement supporting DACA. This statement urges business, civic, religious, and nonprofit sectors to join in protecting the opportunity for those undocumented students who have been raised and educated in the United States to pursue their educational and career goals.

While it is difficult—if not impossible—to predict what may happen after the inauguration in January, we will present a united front on behalf of all of our students, their families, and our community. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the safety and success of our students.