Op-Ed: In a time of peril, SUNY must stand up

 

ZACH BEAUDOIN

Special to The Leader

 

Following the election, many student leaders started petitions calling on their campus administrators and SUNY to make their campuses “sanctuary campuses,” offering protections to undocumented students or employees or others who may be facing deportation. They explained what it meant to be a sanctuary campus, outline the valuable parts of campus that could be impacted without action, and strongly called on their leaders to act.
The students saw the writing on the wall.
The thing about our generation is that we’re learning not to take anything for granted in this hostile environment that some call politics. We know that there might not be student loan relief, we are aware that we probably won’t have decent healthcare, and we took the words of Donald Trump for truth.
Within the first two hours of my petition being online, it had generated hundreds of signatures from students, parents, faculty, and community members. It had comments pleading with the campus to take action, students talking about people who might be impacted if nothing was done, and community members who were fearing the worst.

We were reassured that SUNY was “working” on it, and we pushed it into the back of our minds with a sigh of relief.
Fast-forwarding three months and we’re now facing the very real reality of a Trump presidency and what that might mean for immigrants, green card holders and people with complex citizenships.
We’re confronting the very reality that we were assured by our leaders was being taken care of, to now discover that it was not.
In these uncertain times, I would generally reassure my colleagues to wait for the Chancellor’s statement and see what happens, but I cannot in good faith lie.
The Chancellor’s statement was a lukewarm toeing of the line. It didn’t assure students that SUNY is going to protect them but told them that the Chancellor lacks the courage and will to stand up for their students in a time of need.
I’ve attended many SUNY Student Assembly Conferences, and we’ve always been parroted the talking points about diversity, equality, and inclusion. We’re told about SUNY’s mission, their values, and told these are the vital parts that make SUNY so great, but her actions speak louder than words.
The Chancellor’s statement showed us that they care more about money than diversity. It proved to us that in times of adversity, they will and do drag their feet just like they’ve done over the past three months with the sanctuary campuses.
We’ve seen more from the University Faculty Senate and the Student Assembly than we’ve seen from our paid leaders. Even the City University of New York vowed to fight for their students.

We’ve seen campus presidents from all over the country stand up and denounce this very blatant attack on our democracy that is destroying the lives of many.
We’ve seen who stands up, and we’ve seen who sits down.

 

Zach Beaudoin is a senior English and international studies major, a former Student Association class representative and the former chair of the SUNY SA Sustainability Committee.

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