University Senate endorses ‘sanctuary’ resolutions

Monica Kast

The University Senate endorsed two resolutions regarding President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from several countries at its February senate meeting.

The resolutions, introduced as new business by Senator Patti Minter, associate professor of history, ask “WKU’s President to declare the University a sanctuary campus,” and to “express his support” of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, according to the resolutions.

The first resolution, “University Senate Resolution on Sanctuary for Undocumented Immigrant Students” was debated, specifically about language that would include all students who are not citizens studying at WKU.

Several friendly amendments were made and accepted by Minter, and eventually the title of the resolution was changed to “University Senate Resolution on Sanctuary for Undocumented Immigrant Students and Campus Community Members Affected by Travel Order.” Language was also amended to include “undocumented immigrant and non-immigrant students, scholars and staff” from “undocumented immigrant students.”

The amended resolution states if WKU is declared a sanctuary campus, “undocumented immigrant and non-immigrant students, scholars and staff are full members of the WKU family who will be protected,” including from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, “WKU will not share information about undocumented immigrant and non-immigrant students, scholars and staff unless required by subpoena, court order or warrant.”

Marko Dumancic, university senator and assistant professor of history, closed the discussion talking about his immigration experience and urging senators to pass the resolution. Dumancic was born in Libya, a country impacted by the executive order.

“I appreciate Senator Minter bringing this document to us and I think that it works … I appreciate this body for taking this up, and I think we can, of course, as senate does, discuss details ad infinitum, but I think the spirit of this resolution holds,” Dumancic said. “I would just encourage you, because … I certainly feel a sense of urgency about the senate passing this today, that we take up a vote.”

The resolution was endorsed unanimously, with three abstentions.

The second resolution, “University Senate Resolution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program,” was endorsed unanimously and with no discussion.

This resolution “resolved that the University Senate expresses its support of the DACA program,” and states “the University Senate urges WKU’s President to express his support of the DACA Program.”

Minter said resolutions similar to the two endorsed on Thursday have been passed by universities around the country. Minter said she modeled the first resolution after one passed by Brown University, and considered Brown’s resolution to have “some of the most inclusive language.”

Additionally, the University Senate passed a new policy, 1.1035 Emeritus Status, which changes the name for future naming of faculty with emeritus status. Provost David Lee talked before voting on the resolution, and said the issue had been brought up by senator and associate professor of diversity and community studies Molly Kerby.

Previously, when someone was awarded emeritus status, a male would be given emeritus status, while a female would be given emerita status. Lee said the title of emerita was thought to be “outdated.” Under the new policy, which passed unanimously and without discussion, everyone who is awarded emeritus status will have the emeritus title, regardless of gender.

The University Senate also approved four  substantive changes brought from the Faculty Handbook Committee. The four changes involve minor changes to the promotion and complaint process, and were approved unanimously without discussion.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-0655 or [email protected]