In support of undocumented immigrant students, President Brenneman has signed a statement that calls for the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.Along with 424 other college presidents, Brenneman wanted to show his support for students with DACA status. He also wanted to make a public statement on behalf of Goshen College.
“We want to be especially alert and advocate for the continuation of the program,” he said.
In the next few days, Brenneman plans to share a public letter to the campus community regarding the college’s commitment to all students, especially those that are vulnerable.
“We will do everything within our power to continue to establish Goshen College as a welcoming community on behalf of our students,” he said.
Janeth Vela, a senior, is a recipient of DACA, and she is grateful for Brenneman’s sign of support.
“I was very proud and honored to have a president who stands by Latinx youth in these circumstances,” she said. “It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, but President Brenneman did, and I’m just very thankful for the support he showed through his actions.”
Since the presidential election on Nov. 8, the Latino Student Union has been working on finding ways to help Latino students on campus feel safe and get access to information and resources. Their biggest concern is getting information and providing resources for Latino students on campus so that they know where and who to go to in the event of something happening, like a parent or guardian being deported. They also want to make sure that students know that they have the support of Goshen College.
LSU leaders have been meeting with members of CIIE’s Intercultural Team regularly so the needs could be assessed. They then had a follow up meeting with Ken Newbold, provost, and Launa Leftwich, dean of students, to talk about action they would like to see the administration take, like making resources available for a student if one of their loved ones were to be deported, keeping student records confidential and putting a process in place that will help a student continue their education in the event that they are deported, among other things.
Leftwich mentioned that in the next few weeks, there will be multiple gatherings held in order to address these needs.
“We understand that in times of uncertainty, it is helpful to know the resources available to us as students and as members of the community,” she said. “By collaborating with on and off-campus partners, we want to provide a ‘safety-net’ so students can be informed of legal, housing, counseling and financial options available to them.”
According to Newbold, this is only the first conversation in a series of discussions with LSU and other students.
“Goshen College is committed to support all of our students who are feeling vulnerable and uncertain of the future of existing immigration policy,” Newbold said. “We are working to help connect students to resources not only on campus, but also in our community. In our conversation, we affirmed our commitment to continuing to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students.”
Some of the requests are still in the planning process, but the administration has ensured LSU that students’ records will be kept confidential. Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations, admitted that the administration could probably do more than what they’ve done so far, but right now the focus is making sure that students feels supported. Aguirre has been working other administrators in supporting Latino students as well as trying to ease fears.
“I know there is widespread support among faculty, staff, administrators and even alumni to help as much as we can,” he said. “At present, the greatest need Latino students have is to feel supported, respected and loved by the community, which is why I’ve spent time listening to and grieving with students.”
One way for the campus community to show support of Latino students on campus is to attend the pozolada Thursday, Dec. 1 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Java Junction. Pozolada is an event to bring together students, faculty, staff and Goshen community members. This open space for conversation will feature pozole, a dish from Mexico, which is a soup made from corn kernels with chicken or pork.
Gilberto Perez, senior development of intercultural development and educational partnerships, is a part of the Intercultural Team, which is hosting the pozolada as well as working to setup networks between organizations and people who want to offer support to undocumented immigrants.
“Our main intention for the pozolada,” Perez said, “is to open a space for people to eat together, move closer to one another with conversation and meet new people from the community that offer support to various groups in Goshen and Elkhart.”