Affirming Our Support of Undocumented Students and All Community Members
Message from the President
November 18, 2016
Dear LMU Community:
Yesterday, our students led a “Unity March: United Against Hate,” a passionate show of solidarity. I was proud to participate with community members as we chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear: everyone is welcome here.” In moments like this, our mission and our commitment to the dignity of all persons are pillars on which we rely.
Earlier this week, I shared thoughts about our university-wide advocacy for the dignity of all community members. However, I continue to recognize that the feelings of vulnerability and fear, particularly among our undocumented students, are palpable at present. Thus, in the spirit of the magis, we seek to do more, to do better.
First, I confirm that our entire campus is and must always be a safe space for all persons, regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, political orientation, or other characteristics.
Further, our campus has greatly benefited from the presence of our undocumented students over the years. We will continue to build on our longstanding support and care of these students. I am encouraged by the outreach efforts already underway by Student Affairs, Campus Ministry, Intercultural Affairs, and our faculty. In her October 31 letter, Senior Vice President Lane Bove announced the formation of an advisory committee, led by Dean of Students Jeanne Ortiz, to coordinate and develop resources for undocumented students. In that spirit, I highlight some of the additional steps and actions we are pursuing to extend our support of the most vulnerable members of our LMU family:
- I am working with Jesuit university presidents to release a joint statement reflecting our position to preserve DACA, extending further our 2013 statement supporting undocumented students.
- I am a signatory to the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities’ Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students.
- I am directing our general counsel to collaborate with our AJCU counterparts to explore legal frameworks that affirm and continue our current policies allowing students to attend LMU without regard to immigration status; they will also seek to bolster our longstanding protection of our students’ information and records.
- We will strengthen our partnerships with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the dioceses of Orange and San Bernardino, and their Catholic K-12 educators so that they may counsel and support undocumented or mixed-status families with children in Catholic schools.
- We will enhance existing student psychological resources to support undocumented students whose families may face immigration enforcement.
- We will continue to support academic research, on the Westchester and Law School campuses, concerning immigration law and policy.
- We will ensure our undocumented students have consultation access to our Loyola Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic. The clinic will convene information sessions at the LLS and Westchester campuses on the potential immigration consequences of the new presidential administration and assist AB540 and DACAmented or DACA-eligible students to connect with trusted immigration legal services.
Last year, I hosted a series of lunches and meetings with members of our underrepresented student communities so that I could learn more about their experiences as we continually seek to improve the LMU experience for all. With respect to our Latina/o students, after an initial lunch with students, faculty and staff, student leaders and I have met twice in my office to expand on their issues of concern. I will continue these conversations and work with our Cabinet and community to realize shared goals.
We accept, humbly and completely, our responsibility to advocate for each and every LMU student. As we move forward, I restate a guiding principle from my convocation address last month: Each of us is a person different from the other, each equally dignified in the eyes of God, no matter how our God-given station has configured us. Every one of us bears special talents, special gifts, in the waiting or already in action, as helpers to our university and to our world. Our creativity and our service toward a greater humankind thrive when we are, between one and another, unified in continually joyful welcome.
Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.