Georgetown Sanctuary Campus Movement holds Solidarity Walk

December 7, 2016

Photo: Lilah Burke

On Dec. 2, representatives from the Georgetown Sanctuary Campus Movement delivered a petition to President John DeGioia’s office requesting that the university administration and GUPD implement certain policies to protect undocumented and other marginalized groups of students. Between 40 and 50 students gathered in Red Square before taking part in a “Solidarity Walk” to President DeGioia’s office to deliver the petition.

In Red Square, students participating in the demonstration gave speeches discussing their thoughts about the Sanctuary Campus Movement and their personal relations to it in light of the recent presidential election. “The first reaction I had was that of anger, and the second reaction was that of strength,” said Habon Ali (SFS ‘18). “At the end of the day I’m surrounded by an amazing group of people who support me in all shapes and forms.”

After the gathering in Red Square students marched to President DeGioia’s office. Students carried signs, and sang, “Together in unity we walk in solidarity. Georgetown is our sanctuary home  in the community.”

The Georgetown Sanctuary Campus Movement’s petition calls on President DeGioia and the university’s administration to commit not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. The petition also demands that the university create a full-time position for Undocumented Student Coordinator, provide free legal services for issues related to immigration, and refuse to release information regarding student religion, race, or ethnicity without a subpoena.

The Georgetown Sanctuary Campus Movement extends the definition of a sanctuary campus to apply to students of all marginalized groups, not just undocumented students. “To me specifically, a sanctuary campus is [one that protects undocumented students] of course, but also goes beyond that to protect other marginalized groups as well on Georgetown’s campus,” Aly Panjwani (SFS ‘19), one of the event’s organizers, said.

The Georgetown Sanctuary Campus Movement demanded in its petition, in addition to its provisions for undocumented students, certain measures for other marginalized groups on campus. The petition specifically calls for stricter punishments for those found guilty of bias-related incidents, one all-gender bathroom per building, and increased accommodations for students with disabilities.

The petition is part of a wider effort on many college campuses to ensure protection for the rights of undocumented students. “The sanctuary campus movement is a movement that has come about around the country and has been specifically for the protection of undocumented students, and creating a sanctuary where there’s no threat to them as undocumented students,” Panjwani, said.

The university administration has acknowledged the Sanctuary Campus Movement’s objectives. “Given some of the rhetoric in the campaign, we think there are very legitimate concerns and anxieties, so we’ve been trying to work with students and administrators to address that,” Joe Ferrara, chief of staff in the President’s Office, said.  

The Sanctuary Campus Movement and the university administration anticipate working together in the future. “What I just committed to is that we will meet to discuss these specific demands,” Ferrara said. “We will do everything we can, to the fullest extent permitted by the law, to support and protect our students.”

Jake Maher
Jake Maher is the former executive news editor and editor-in-chief of The Georgetown Voice.


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