Students call for UO to be a ‘sanctuary’ campus university

Selena Trevino spoke at the sanctuary campus rally. “My heart feels heavy,” she said. “I feel deep sorrow for the loss we have taken as a country.” (Andrew Field / Emerald)

On Wednesday, around 150 University of Oregon students gathered at the Erb Memorial Union amphitheater, calling for the administration to accept and protect undocumented immigrant students following President-elect Donald Trump’s election.

The rally was part of the nation-wide “sanctuary campus” protests, which have taken place in more than 40 universities, including Oregon State University, Lane Community College and Portland State University. Three students hosted the rally at the UO: Amy Schenk, from the United States Student Association, along with Bryce Keicher and Ayantu Megerssa, who are forming a group currently titled the UO Coalition for Political Action.

The students made four demands of the UO administration based on those made at other sanctuary campus protests. The students called for the university to refuse to share all voluntary information of its undocumented immigration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), refuse to grant access to ICE members to property owned by the university, and forbid campus police from recording a student’s immigration status or enforcing immigration laws. The students also demanded that the university increase its acceptance of undocumented students and provide them with financial aid.

Schenk, Keicher and Megerssa said that they will create further demands unique to the University of Oregon campus and will invite student groups on campus to pledge to them before they send them to administration, they said. 

As the rally was occurring, the UO Faculty Senate passed a resolution supporting a similar list of sanctuary campus initiatives, which have been sent to administration.

“I’m excited that there is faculty out there who are willing to create a safe space for students and they’re willing to work for that,” Schenk said.

In response to Trump’s campaign promise to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, the three students also demanded that the UO increase acceptance of Muslim international students, as well as students from Palestine and Syria — regardless of citizenship status.

Schenk, Keicher and Megerssa made several other demands related to UO’s LGBT community: To build gender-inclusive restrooms in every campus building, allow students to change student identification pictures and names free of cost, set new diversity policy to protect students from gender and sexuality-based violence, provide access to gender-inclusive healthcare for trans students without having to buy university insurance.

The students also called for administration to meet the remaining seven Black Student Task Force demands.

The Dakota Access Pipeline was an issue the students wanted UO’s administration to become involved in. The students demanded that the university divest from any investments to the DAPL, fund students to travel to join Sioux water protectors in protesting the pipeline and increase acceptance of native and indigenous students.

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