ASG Senate passes legislation urging Northwestern to declare itself a ‘sanctuary’ campus
December 2, 2016
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Associated Student Government Senate passed legislation Wednesday urging the University to declare itself a “sanctuary” campus, joining in a nationwide push following President-elect Donald Trump’s win in November.
Sanctuary cities are places that do not alert federal authorities about individuals who violate immigration laws. The legislation follows a “welcoming city” ordinance passed by City Council on Monday, which prohibits Evanston employees from asking a resident’s immigration status unless required by state law. Senate unanimously agreed to amend its bill to reflect information about the city’s new ordinance.
“We want to make sure that students on this campus are safe to study and to be a student without the fear of deportation,” said Weinberg senior Hayeon Kim, one of the bill’s co-authors.
The bill passed with a voice vote and did not face much opposition. However, an amendment that asked for language directly naming Trump faced scrutiny from most senators and was eventually voted down.
Some senators said the legislation didn’t need to directly name Trump because the purpose of the bill would have stayed the same without naming him.
“The rhetoric used by President-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign has endangered the livelihood and well being of undocumented students and families throughout the country,” the bill reads.
SESP sophomore Sky Patterson, who co-authored the bill, disagreed with the proposed amendment to remove that clause, saying she did not wish to shy away from talking negatively about Trump.
“I’m happy to throw a jab at (him), and I’m happy to call out people who are racist,” she said.
“I’m happy to call out people, like Donald J. Trump, who have used rhetoric to endanger groups of people.”
The bill also asks administrators to provide more resources for undocumented students and make a public announcement declaring itself a sanctuary campus.
In November, a petition that gathered more than 2,200 signatures urged NU to call itself a sanctuary campus. The University later responded with a letter, saying it is “strongly committed” to being an inclusive place and that it is the norm for University Police to not question anyone it stops about their citizenship.
Weinberg sophomore Lars Benson acknowledged that the bill was political, but said it was important nonetheless.
“You can observe, post election, the rise in hate crimes that have occurred across the country,” he said. “If you examine the campaign, you can clearly see that this one candidate utilized this time of rhetoric, which directly led to endangering the well being of undocumented students and families in this country.”
Senate also approved B-status funding on Wednesday, and no senator made a motion to add or cut funding from a B-Status student group. At the last Senate meeting, multiple A-Status groups motioned to get more funding.
Additionally, Speaker of the Senate Nehaarika Mulukutla presented three proposals on possible reforms to the proposed student-run judicial branch of ASG, as well as ideas for what powers the judicial branch or the rules committee could have. The Weinberg junior said the judicial branch reform committee talked to student governments at more than 50 universities while working on a proposal to bring to Senate.
Mulukutla said the committee will likely introduce legislation at some point next quarter. She also raised concerns about forming a judicial branch comprised of ASG senators.
“We want to enforce ASG’s constitution and code internally and hold members of ASG accountable,” she said. “The question is, why is our judicial branch comprised of senators if what it’s policing is the Senate?”