By Amelia Heup
The UW-Stevens Point Student Government Association is once again in the spotlight after a controversial resolution on immigration policy passed unanimously last month. A Resolution in Support of Students who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Recipients, Undocumented Immigrants, Refugees, or from Majority-Muslim Countries, references the current United States administration has promised to deport all “illegal” immigrants as “criminals.” It also points to President Trump-issued executive order enforcing a travel ban against several majority-Muslim countries: The SGA attributes the current political climate of the United States to the deporting of millions of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, undocumented immigrants, refugees and people from majority-Muslim countries who are in the United States for study, work or basic living necessity.
The Student Government adopted the framework of such a resolution to promote the diversity on campus along with showing support of students under the DACA doctrine that was intensified in 2013 under the Obama Administration and has come under scrutiny with the current administration. On October 19, Chancellor Bernie Patterson addressed the concerns of the campus specifically regarding DACA in an email with the subject, “Fostering Inclusive Environment.” This email was sent to students, faculty and staff members stating a continued commitment to the physical and psychological well-being of DACA students. In 2016, Patterson signed on with over 700 college and university presidents and chancellors around the nation in a “Statement in Support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students.”
Where the controversy comes in pertains to line 96-98. This section in its entirety states:
Therefore be it further resolved: SGA calls for the UWSP Police and Security Services to refrain from collaborating with immigration officials on students who do not currently have a warrant for their arrest, have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Some student senators expressed concern with the section. According to the minutes released by the SGA for the October 25 meeting, Senators Tollefson and Glomstad proposed that the language be removed. Tollefson said he “doesn’t think we (SGA) have the right to tell law enforcement what to do.” After much debate over the span of two meetings, the wording was changed from the draft form that called for no public safety enforcement to the current wording of providing only an “ask” of law enforcement to comply with the SGA resolution. According to the minutes, Senator DeLain opposed striking the language: “I disagree since we aren’t telling them what to so, we are just asking. We cannot tell them not but think we can work with them if there is a concern about student safety.”
In an effort to create an open dialogue between the two strained organizations, the UWSP College Republicans Vice Chair Travis Gotchie reached out to the Vice-President of SGA, Dyllan Griepentrog and SGA Legislative Directory Nick Kositzke with the concerns that conservative students continued to express after the passing of this document. In the email, Gotchie stated that the student organization “feels as though these lines are not in compliance with federal nor state and local law,” also referring to the SGA constitutional section Article 4 – Ethics 1 that states “Persons holding student government association offices shall act in accordance with this constitution, all state, all federal and local laws, and university policy, and shall behave in an ethical manner acting in their official capacity.” Further requesting the information, “in a timely manner in order to provide our members and other students who are of concern with the proper information.” Griepentrog responded with a follow-up email stating that further discussion will take place. However, after two weeks, no movement on this request has been taken up.
With approval of this resolution, it has been sent to Chancellor Patterson along with other administrative personnel along with student organizations that have expressed support of this document or whose members have been involved in the support of DACA.