MSU prides itself in being a diverse school of higher education, yet has remained silent on the most recent upset of justice. President Trump’s policy reversal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) places roughly 800,000 immigrants across the nation at risk of deportation and alters their futures in ways they could never have imagined. This revocation is especially disheartening for the nearly 200,000 students in the US, but should be a worrisome topic for each and every citizen. These students — these future educators, business persons, entrepreneurs and more — have every right to stay in this country. Not only have they done nothing wrong, but they benefit our economy and society in numerous ways. To dismiss their successes and future possibilities is a failure on our country’s part. To not be discussing how we will handle this policy change and the lives of the students it affects is a failure on Montana State’s part.
While it is unclear whether we have any DACA students on MSU’s campus, it is discouraging to know there has been no public announcement or discussion regarding the policy reversal and how administration plans to move forward with handling any current or prospective DACA students. During the 2016-17 academic year, MSU had 555 foreign undergraduate students from 72 different countries, making up roughly four percent of undergraduate students at Montana State. It is not impossible to imagine at least one of these students could be a DACA recipient. Regardless, it is important to be discussing how Montana State should and will react to the repeal of DACA.
Open dialogue is the only way to understand how our university should be moving forward following this shocking political move. Should MSU join other universities such as Columbia, Harvard and Cornell in becoming a sanctuary campus by not allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection or US Citizenship and Immigration Services agents onto campus unless required by warrant? How will administration handle any applications to join MSU by DACA recipients? How do our fellow Bobcats feel about Montana State being a welcoming home for DACA students?
It is extremely important to introduce conversations like this to our students and staff. Because of this, the Office of Diversity has created a new location in SUB 368, dubbed the “New Student Commons,” where they will be hosting “popup dialogues.” These popup dialogues are a way to introduce and discuss national and worldwide issues – such as DACA – in a controlled setting where students are able to feel safe and secure, but also free to express their opinions and feelings.
However, the Office of Diversity and participating students cannot handle this incredible setback alone. The administrative staff at Montana State needs to organize, discuss and publicly announce their plan involving DACA policy and the university’s own opinions on the matter. Regardless of the administration’s stance on the issue, there needs to be a conversation about it if we hope to be known as more than a school to attend for nearby skiing.
All in all, Montana State has failed in joining the nationwide conversation involving DACA and its recipients. Regardless of where MSU stands on this topic, the repeal of DACA policy will affect our students eventually, if not instantly. If we hope to be taken seriously as a public university, we need to be involved and vocal about such topics as DACA.