December 1, 2016
Early November 2016, the organization Movimiento Cosecha made a call to action for students on college campuses to join a national walk out in support of making their schools sanctuary campuses.
The night before the walkout, the petition letter we drafted demanding that Wesleyan become a sanctuary campus began circulating on Facebook and on e-mail list-serves. Within 24 hours, we received over 1,000 signatures. We want to thank everyone for sharing the petition and for their support. In addition, we want to thank the faculty members who drafted their own letter in response to the sanctuary decision. We want to publicly state that we fully support the propositions made by faculty members.
We also want to thank President Roth for declaring Wesleyan a sanctuary campus the weekend after the walkout. We appreciate the public commitment that he has made to students, faculty and staff on this campus. However, we would like to point out that while we are grateful for this commitment, most points in the petition letter were not addressed. This has made us wary about the nature of the action being solely symbolic. We are currently living in a political moment in which performative solidarity is not enough, nor has it ever been. Now more than ever we must acknowledge this and build structural foundations that will mark substantial institutional changes for generations to come.
Some of the points that were not addressed in President Roth’s blog post were in regards to CAPS, campus housing during breaks, medical insurance, and monetary resources for DACA, VISA or TPS applications. To reiterate:
In regards to CAPS — We are asking that President Roth comply with WSA Resolution 3.38. This resolution calls for the University to fund two more full time psychotherapists to address the unreasonably long wait for students attempting to make new appointments (8-10 days). We are asking that at least one of these psychotherapists be trained in social justice issues and can provide adequate support to students experiencing distress as a result of their uncertain futures. In October of this year, President Roth supported the Wes Needs CAPS initiative and was able to increase the budget for a new APRN to full time from part time. We hope that he can continue supporting mental health concerns on campus, especially for those who are most vulnerable.
In regards to campus housing during breaks– We are asking that President Roth provide adequate housing and resources to students who cannot go home during breaks for monetary reasons or for safety concerns. Although Recess House is currently a resource for some students who have the need to stay on campus during breaks, this is a limited resource because it requires students to apply before the fall or spring semester, which doesn’t take into account the fact that students run into unanticipated challenges. Further, the existence of this house in the future is tentative. There is a program house proposal for Recess House to become Haven House, a space on campus specifically for students who are low income, first generation, international, undocumented or economically disadvantaged. Regardless of whether this house is chosen out of the many proposals for new program houses, we urge you to provide spaces for these groups.
In regards to medical insurance — We are asking President Roth to provide financial assistance to students who do not have access to medicaid due to the documentation status. Students should also be guaranteed free or affordable contraceptives regardless of the state of national politics.
In regards to other monetary resources– We asked that President Roth provide financial support for students needing to pay for immigration related applications and legal proceedings. We also asked for there to be scholarships for students who will lose federal student aid.
Since President Roth has declared Wesleyan a sanctuary campus, it is important that he ensures that the resources that were demanded in the petition letter are available to students, faculty, staff and the Middletown community, or else we will be a sanctuary campus simply in name.
We also want to emphasize that the process of making this school a sanctuary campus is not separate from other student led initiatives on this campus (i.e isthiswhy, CAPS campaign, proposal for Haven House, demands for administrative transparency) or from the Middletown community but instead supports and intersects with them in its goal to build a safer, more inclusive community. As of now we are working with professors and other community members on projects for next semester. However we need institutional support and financial backing to build sustainable changes.
We applaud President Roth’s successful fundraising initiative and ability to increase the school endowment with This Is Why by 482 million dollars. Considering this success, we propose President Roth begin another fundraiser specifically for the aforementioned demands and or use This Is Why money to begin addressing some of them now.
Aleyda Robles firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomás Rogel email@example.com
Paige Hutton firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Montoya email@example.com