Jun 2012: Responding to undocumented student sit-ins and marches, Obama administration enacts DACA
Jan 2013: The Lang Student Global Migration Group becomes The New School Dream Team, led by Lang student activist Cecilia Frescas-Ortiz, with faculty advisers Alexandra Delano and Nadia Williams.
2013 – 2016 Highlights:
- Coming Out of the Shadows events;
- Altar and vigils for the 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa;
- Extensive lobbying of TNS president who eventually endorses and lobbies for the New York DREAM Act;
- Organizing TNS community against police brutality;
- Lobbying elected officials in Albany and Washington, D.C.;
- Collaboration with and support from the NYS Youth Leadership Council
Nov 2016: In aftermath of presidential election, TNS faculty and Dream Team members call for TNS to become a Sanctuary Campus. The open letter is signed by 1200 community members.
Nov 2016: The Dream Team asks The New School president to sign a letter supporting DACA and signed by 600 other university presidents. The president declines, stating that The New School does not take political positions.
Nov 2016: TNS Board of Trustees issues a resolution to not voluntarily cooperate with immigration enforcement unless there is a warrant. Reiterates existing resources for international students but does not provide any resources to undocumented students, nor does it respond to the call to support and stand with these students.
Jan 2017: An unprecedented group of international students affected by the Muslim ban, undocumented students, students of color, LGBTQ students, and affected staff and faculty form the Sanctuary Working Group and begin drafting a New School-specific definition of Sanctuary, culminating in the 16 Points document. Endorsement is sought from individuals and representative bodies. All major faculty and student senates endorse the Sanctuary letter, along with staff unions, numerous student groups and academic programs, signaling endorsement by a wide majority of the university community. 1,000 individuals add their signatures as well.
Feb 2017: Sanctuary Letter delivered to New School president by student members of the Dream Team and the SWG. In response to the students’ request for a meeting, he indicates, “I plan to meet with members of the faculty and other university leaders to discuss these ideas and others.”
Feb 2017: SWG restates our request for a meeting, and president’s office begins working with us on scheduling one.
Mar 2017: Meeting of Sanctuary Working Group with President of New School, Provost, Senior VP of Social Justice and VP of Student Success.
Sanctuary Working Group asks for:
1) A university-wide taskforce to work on centralizing and increasing support for undocumented, immigrant and international community members, and
2) A transparent, inclusive (i.e., including students, staff and faculty) decision-making process on whether or not to declare The New School a Sanctuary Campus.
Sanctuary Working Group reports the following urgent concerns during the meeting:
1) Students are worried about their immigration status being visible to all users of online scheduling platforms
2) Students are experiencing discrimination in the International Students and Scholars Services office
3) Support from the university is needed to sustain the SWG; it is unfair to expect affected community members to work for free to fill the gaps in resources and services needed for vulnerable community members
Mar 2017: President says “no” to a task force and “no” to continuing the conversation on declaring TNS a sanctuary campus. President offers us follow up “feedback opportunities” to “help refine [our] ideas.” The SWG declines these meetings, protesting the lack of recognition of the will of the majority of the university community, and the president’s unwillingness to support the Sanctuary Working Group in order to make our work effective and sustainable. SWG notes, “Your refusal to be a leader in a social justice movement today makes it easier for members of our community to come under attack in the future.”
Apr 2017: Student information, including immigration status, is leaked by staff in the registrar’s office. The notification e-mails, similar to mass e-mail notices sent in Sept. 2016 are alarming to our members. The message regards Social Security numbers as vulnerable data but not immigration status.
May 2017-Present: Sanctuary Working Group, in concert with other student, faculty and staff-led representative bodies begin work to implement protection and increase resources regarding:
1) Data security
2) Legal resources
3) Competency training
May 2017: SWG takes New School President and administration up on offer of “follow up meeting,” by taking a meeting with Student Success. We reiterate our concerns about immigration status being visible to all users of scheduling platforms, students’ experiences of discrimination, the lack of financial aid for students with DACA, and that it is unfair to expect the Dream Team members to function as unpaid advisers to current and prospective undocumented students–a resource center is needed. Student Success promises to follow up on these matters but they do not contact us again.
May 2017: SWG again contacts New School President restating our concerns about the lack of transparency and the top-down approach to working with vulnerable community members, noting that this approach increases mistrust and prevents collaboration. SWG does not receive a response.
May 2017: NSSR Taskforce on Immigration Status and Inclusion is founded to help address the leadership gap caused by the lack of a university-wide taskforce on these issues.
Sept 2017: Immigration status is removed from Starfish online scheduling platform (our concern regarding this practice was originally reported 6 months prior), as a result of SWG advocacy and the efforts of the NSSR Taskforce to investigate information-sharing practices.
Sept 2017: With DACA non-renewal imminent, SWG calls upon TNS president to make the following pledges:
- Provide additional stipends as well as health, wellness and housing resources to help ensure current students with DACA and TPS complete their studies.
- To hire, in consultation with the Sanctuary Working Group, a DACA/TPS Resource Counselor that is trusted by the community.
- To join any efforts by state Attorney Generals that will help defend the retention of DACA and TPS.
The Sanctuary Working Group did not receive a response to these requests. Instead of increasing support in light of the revocation of DACA, TNS president restated the decision announced in Nov 2016 to not voluntarily cooperate with ICE requests. TNS president announced that the Title IX Coordinator would be the official point person for the concerns of students with DACA. No resource counselor was hired and no consultation with the SWG or the Dream Team about how to support students occurred.
Oct 2017: With help from the Social Justice Committee and Lang Office of Civic Engagement and Social Justice, SWG led a training on immigration policies and their effects on campus, including representatives of the National Immigration Law Center, the New Sanctuary Coalition and DRUM. With more than 60 attendees, the training offered practical information about how the university can respond to requests for information or access to campus from ICE, as well as ways in which everyone in the community can support those affected by immigration policies. A clear outcome from the workshop was the need to offer Beyond Rights trainings for everyone at the University (citizens and non-citizens, staff, students, faculty, residential advisors and security) on a regular basis as well as training for all security and maintenance staff.
NOV 2017: X Dream Team and SWG built a Día de los Muertos altar in the Social Justice Hub. A ceremony was held November 3. To draw attention to the lack of commitment to sanctuary from the administration, the theme was RIP University in Exile. 183 flowers were placed to represent the 183 University in Exile scholars who received sponsorship and support in the 1930s, and to commemorate a climate of support and protection that once existed and which is now absent.