Letter to the Editor: Open letter in support of Northwestern becoming sanctuary campus

We, the undersigned faculty, staff, alumni and students of Northwestern University write in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States to declare our commitment to the safety and dignity of all students and workers in our community. We petition the university to declare Northwestern a sanctuary for undocumented students, workers and their families.

Mr. Trump has declared his intention upon taking office to immediately begin deportation proceedings against millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States and to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that provides relief for deportation for hundreds of thousands of young people in the United States, including many Northwestern students. If these policies are enacted, they will prove disastrous, subjecting students and workers who are integral to our community to punitive measures, and countering Northwestern’s stated commitment to “the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community.”

We are dismayed at the wave of hatred that has swept across the nation since the election, including threats of deportation against Latina/o youth, bullying of Muslim and LGBT youth, incendiary graffiti and vandalism, and hateful comments directed at students of color on our own campus. In light of very real and immediate threats faced by members of our community, as well as the environment of fear that the election has created, we ask the university to take the following steps:

– Issue a public statement reaffirming the university’s commitment to support and protect all of its students and workers, regardless of their citizenship status, religion, ethnicity, or national origin;

– Reaffirm current admission and financial aid policies regarding undocumented students;

– Guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding citizenship status;

– Take steps to protect the visa status and funding of international students;

– Refuse to comply with federal authorities regarding deportations or immigration raids;

– Reaffirm the university’s commitment to create a campus atmosphere of respect by denouncing the hate speech directed at immigrant, minority, and LGBTQ students and workers, and by informing the campus of existing resources for reporting and responding to bias or hate incidents;

– Repair a weakness in current university structure by creating an administrative mechanism for reporting hate and bias incidents to appropriate state and federal agencies.

Only a few months ago, President Schapiro co-authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times defending the principle of safe spaces on university campuses. And months earlier he declared Northwestern’s commitment to offering undocumented students the same support offered to its citizen students. Northwestern now has an opportunity to put those words into action by creating a legal sanctuary for its students. Doing so would not only show Northwestern’s commitment to our own campus, but also our solidarity with local communities, as Evanston and Chicago have both affirmed their status as sanctuary cities. While we believe that people of good will can hold diverging political beliefs, we also believe that the safety of students and workers is absolutely essential to create the climate of free inquiry that the university should foster. This is not a time to wait and see how federal policies develop. To the contrary, it is a time to unflinchingly affirm our core values and to work proactively to safeguard the wellbeing of our community with every resource at our disposal. We ask that the university act now to fulfill its mission of “sustaining a safe and healthy Northwestern community.”


John Alba Cutler, Associate Professor, English and Latina/o Studies
Ana Aparicio, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Latina/o Studies
Harris Feinsod, Assistant Professor, English & Comparative Literary Studies
Jorge Coronado, Associate Professor, Spanish & Portuguese
Geraldo Cadava, Associate Professor, History
Rebecca Johnson, Assistant Professor, English & Middle East and North African Studies
Nathalie Bouzaglo, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Kasey Evans, Associate Professor, English and Gender & Sexuality Studies
Jules Law, Professor of English
Emily Maguire, Associate Professor, Spanish & Portuguese and Latina/o Studies
Alejandra Uslenghi, Assistant Professor, Spanish & Portuguese-Comparative Literary Studies
Juan Martinez, Assistant Professor, English
Kelly Wisecup, Assistant Professor, Department of English
Julia Stern, Professor, English
Frances R. Aparicio, Professor, Spanish & Portuguese and Latina/o Studies
Susan E Phillips, Associate Professor of English
Reginald Gibbons, Professor
Susannah Gottlieb, Director, Comparative Literary Studies
Michelle M Wright, Professor of African American Studies & Comparative Literary Studies
Chris Abani, Board of Trustees Professor of English and Comp Lit
Jessica Winegar, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Mark W. Hauser, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Micaela di Leonardo, Professor, Anthropology, Performance Studies
Wendy Wall, Professor, English
Doug Kiel, Assistant Professor, History and Kaplan Institute
Marianne Hopman, Associate Professor, Classics and Comparative Literary Studies
Patrick Noonan, Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures & Comparative Literary Studies
Francesca Tataranni, Professor of Instruction, Classics
Katherine E. Hoffman, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Middle East and North African Studies
Erica Weitzman, Assistant Professor, German
Hector Carrillo, Associate Professor, Sociology, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Latina/o Studies
Laura Brueck, Associate Professor of South Asian Literature and Culture
Liz McCabe, Lecturer, Chicago Field Studies
Jennifer Nash, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies
James Mahoney, Professor and Chair, Sociology
Mary Pattillo, Harold Washington Professor, Sociology and African American Studies
E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies
Mark McClish, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Nick Davis, Associate Professor, English and Gender & Sexuality Studies
Brannon Ingram, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Jillana Enteen, Associate Professor of Instruction, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Asian American Studies
David Boyk, Assistant Professor of Instruction, Asian Languages and Cultures
Nasrin Qader, Chair, French and Italian
Steven Epstein, Professor of Sociology and John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities
Robert L. Nelson, Professor, Sociology
Aaron Norton, Visiting Assistant Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Sociology
Joanna Grisinger, Associate Professor of Instruction, Legal Studies
Anna Parkinson, Associate Professor, German Department
Susan Pearson, Associate Professor, History
Robert Launay, Professor, Anthropology

Note: At the time of closure, the petition had 2,234 signatures of faculty, staff, students and alumni, Prof. John Alba Cutler told the Daily in an email.

Update: The headline of this story was edited to reflect that faculty, staff, students and alumni were signatories of this letter.