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Letter to the community: Sanctuary campus statement from members of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric

In the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford, ethos is a fundamental principle in our engagement with students. Ethos is related not only to authority and credibility, but also to the ethical actions that undergird those qualities. When Stanford declares that its primary mission is “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization,” it is relying on its ethos as a prestigious institution that wields significant power. When the University states that it strives “to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life,” it is relying on its ethos as a place that protects, supports and prepares its students for life in the public sphere. We teach our students the value of ethos — the value of credible speech and ethical action — under the aegis of Stanford’s mission and goals.

In the Nov. 10, 2016 Faculty Senate meeting, Provost Etchemendy spoke of the fact that many Stanford students, staff and faculty are terrified by the election of Donald Trump because of the very real effects of his racist, misogynist and xenophobic rhetoric and actions. In particular, the Provost noted, “We should all realize that we have a lot of students who feel particularly vulnerable, but not just students, but students and staff and other faculty — in particular students of color, undocumented students, LGBT students and faculty. Some of the students I spoke to were truly shaken and worried not just about themselves, but in particular about their parents and whether they would be deported.” This is of course alarming, but it is not surprising; between Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 alone, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 701 incidents of hateful harassment. The largest number of reported incidents occurred in California and the most common kind of hate incident was the xenophobic harassment of those perceived as immigrants (followed by anti-Black, homophobic/transphobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and misogynist incidents). The Stanford police have reported more than 17 counts of hate crime vandalism on campus since Dec. 30, 2016.

In recent days, President Trump has signed immigration-focused executive orders that include banning travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, halting the United States’ acceptance of refugees and calling for the construction of a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico. These actions directly impact many of our students and their families. As a program that teaches nearly every undergraduate on campus, we have witnessed first-hand how the threat of deportation and harassment interferes with our students’ lives and learning. What student could possibly be expected to focus on revising their essay when they fear that they or their parents are going to be deported or that their visa will be summarily canceled?

In response to this very real and serious threat to undocumented communities, many universities have taken ethical, courageous, pro-active measures. At Pomona College, President David Oxtoby not only began a letter defending DACA — later signed by Stanford — but also brought in legal aid to advise undocumented students and “personally assured students that Pomona will fill any financial aid gaps should Trump end the program and their access to work permits,” as the LA Times reported. Dedicated centers and programs, such as UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program and NYU’s Immigrant Defense Initiative, provide undocumented students — and students with undocumented family members — with robust, comprehensive legal, academic and emotional support. Most recently, Stanford has taken steps to publicly show its support for undocumented and targeted international students. On Jan. 29, Stanford issued a statement that responded to some of the concerns raised by Stanford Sanctuary Now. The University has made its need-blind admissions policies for undocumented students explicit, restricted the extent to which the institution will share records with immigration and law enforcement officers and noted that Stanford police will not do the work of ICE unless legally required. The University has affirmed its support for DACA, the DREAM Act and the Bridge Act. Now, we can come together to do more.

In this crucial moment, as members of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, we stand with our students. Joining with colleagues and students across the country, including over 60 universities that have declared sanctuary status, we call for Stanford to continue to take meaningful, concrete actions to protect and support our undocumented and targeted international students, their families and their communities. In particular, we wish to amplify Stanford Sanctuary Now’s call for the following measures:

1) Protect and support those most vulnerable to deportation, surveillance and employment discrimination, specifically Muslim and undocumented individuals.

2) Devote financial and legal resources to support immigrants throughout the region.

Stanford has declared, “Our support for all members of our community, including undocumented students, remains firm.” We strongly affirm that declaration, and we recognize that ethos will demand continuous action from all of us.

-The Undersigned Members of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University

Adam J. Banks, Faculty Director
Dr. Selby Wynn Schwartz
Dr. Megan Shields Formato
Dr. Maxe Crandall
Dr. Ruth Starkman
Dr. Jenae Cohn
Dr. Ann Watters
Dr. Clara S. Lewis
Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy
Dr. Jennifer Johnson
Dr. Brian Kim
Dr. Sarah Ives
Dr. Hsiao-Shih Lee
Dr. Christopher Kamrath
Dr. Kimberly R. Moekle
Dr. Doree Allen
Dr. Donna Hunter
Dr. Valerie Kinsey
Dr. Angela Becerra Vidergar
Dr. Mark Gardiner
Dr. Rebecca Richardson
Dr. Allison Mickel
Dr. Gabrielle Moyer
Dr. Sarah Pittock
Dr. Lisa Poggiali
Dr. Emily Polk
Dr. Kim Savelson
Dr. Mackenzie Russell
Dr. Wendy Goldberg
Carolyn B. Ross
Erik Ellis
Dr. Shay Brawn
John Peterson
Andrea Lawson Kortenhoven
Mary Stroud
Dr. Lindsey Felt
Dr. Shannon Hervey
Dr. Jamie O’Keeffe
Dr. Christine Alfano
Justine DeSilva
Dr. Lauren E. Oakes
Janet Kim
Katie Fritz
Dr. Cassie A. Wright
Dr. Kathleen A. Tarr
Kevin DiPirro
Dr. Thomas Freeland
Jonah Willihnganz
Dr. Irena Yamboliev
Helen Lie
Will Rogers
Jenny March
Walidah Imarisha
Dr. Lindsey Mantoan
Ashley Newby
Dr. Jakeya Caruthers
Aaron Montoya
Dr. Jennifer Stonaker

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