CMC Responds to DACA Repeal: Statements, Discussions, and Event Cancellations

President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was met with declarations of support for DACA students from the CMC administration and some discussion in ASCMC. Dean of Students Sharon Basso sent one of the first emails reassuring the student body and those affected that CMC support its DACA students. “We fully stand behind, value, and will continue to support each member of our community to be successful here at CMC and beyond,” wrote Dean Basso. “Unless we are legally compelled to do so, CMC will not permit USCIS officials to conduct immigration enforcement activities at the College.” Dean Basso wrote that the College had reached out to our DACA students by saying they have “additional resources and support” for these students.

Vince Greer, Associate Dean of Students For Diversity, Inclusion & Residential Life, also wrote to the student body that morning.

The CARE Center held a Real Talk series “to create a space for students to come together to talk and process the ramification of this event.” The center also hosted Lauren Burke, an immigration attorney, on September 7th. Greer said that RSVPs to both events “exceeded the number” of students the Center can hold, “which is always a plus.” The Real Talk series was a way to help students “process the initial decisions” and answer any questions in regards to how this decision impacts students at CMC. Lauren Burke helped clarify the “nuances of immigration law in our country.” Greer also explained that the CARE Center will continue to provide proactive programming to build understanding and curiosity on issues of inclusion, for anyone who wants “to learn more no matter what stage of their understanding of these issues are."

The CARE Center events are not the first time CMC began the discussion of DACA. In November 2016, shortly after the election, President Chodosh expressed his thoughts in regards to the matter.

At the time, former Pomona College President David Oxtoby issued a statement in support of DACA and asked college and university presidents to sign it. In a public statement, President Chodosh wrote that he agreed with President Oxtoby in supporting the undocumented beneficiaries of DACA, specifically by offering advisory, legal and financial support. However, President Chodosh took the second portion of President Oxtoby's statement to a further discussion. He said that while the executive order “should be upheld, continued, and expanded,” DACA alone is an “unstable legal framework” and “sustainable support for our undocumented students requires a much greater strategic commitment than DACA.” The President went on to say that the statement’s advocacy for DACA and institutional endorsement of DACA may “fail to take different views into account.”

In light of the repeal, The Forum reached out to President Chodosh to inquire if is his stance on the issue has changed or remained the same since November. The President said the following: “We have all been clear at CMC in our support for DACA students. Most recently, Dean Basso reaffirmed our commitment in a September 14th letter to the campus, she wrote: 'Again, I want to state clearly and forcefully that we stand with our DACA students.' In an earlier statement on September 5th, Dean Basso said: 'President Chodosh, Dean Uvin, and I … fully stand behind, value, and will continue to support each member of our community to be successful here at CMC and beyond.' Further, as the FAQ in Dean Basso’s message last week stated: 'CMC seeks to admit and enroll the strongest candidates from the broadest possible applicant pool. Like any other accepted student, DACA students are admitted to CMC on the basis of their superior academic and leadership abilities.' Each of these statements reinforce my strong support both for DACA students and, as I conveyed last November, for a legislative solution.”

Following our staff and faculty’s emphasis on their support for our DACA students, organizations on campus reached out to the student body.

¡Mi Gente!, CMC’s Latinx group, sent out an open letter the evening of the decision to the members of their community. The board wrote, “we are devastated and outraged at President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA." The repeal "is an attack on ALL members of the Latinx community...we are proud and honored to stand with you. We admire your strength and perseverance, and you make our community and our country great. Do not lose hope, hermanxs; juntos, podemos mover las montañas. En solidaridad.” The group tabled outside of Collins Dining Hall during meals over the past weekend, and will do so again at the end of this week, to encourage students to call and/or write to their Senators to take action against the decision.

Representatives from ASCMC also showed support for DACA students, but cancelled the event they had planned in response. In a school-wide email, President Sami Malas said, “ASCMC stands in full support of those affected around the country and at our home, CMC.” He also linked to the Humanity Rocks Event. This event was announced by Sophomore Class President Bryan Carlen '20 to help the Class of 2020 "stand for peace and tolerance." In an email sent to the sophomores, Carlen said “pledge for peace and acceptance and send that message that we care.” At the event, students would “paint a rock with a blue heart and places it on somewhere on campus that has meaning to them.”

However, on September 12th, the Humanity Rocks! event was taken down from Facebook. When asked for comment, the event coordinator Jenny Gurev ‘20 explained that “Humanity Rocks! is an event aimed to promote acceptance and peace on campus. It is in response to several of the intolerant actions taken by the Trump Administration that have impacted the lives of students across this campus. After careful consideration, the Sophomore Class Cabinet has decided to postpone this event in order to incorporate more opinions and perspectives. We appreciate your patience!”

The Sophomore Class Cabinet received some objections from students about the event. Luis Salazar '20 was one of the first to point out that the organizers had not consulted members of the affected communities even when trying to "help" them.

"Humanity Rocks was a vague attempt to generalize everyone's oppression-- coincidentally at a time where one specific community, DACA, was under direct attack," he said. "It is not enough to simply put rocks around campus and hope everyone's problems go away, or assume that everyone feels more safe because of the scattered rock. That is being a performative ally. Do better, CMC."