Counseling and Psychological Services and the Associated Students of the University of La Verne held an open meeting last Friday, to discuss the emotional impact of President Donald Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement of the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
More than a dozen students and faculty attended the meeting in the Campus Center, which was designed to be a safe place to discuss the concerns of DACA students and the social climate in the United States.
Trump amended his initial DACA announcement this week, and has begun negotiating with Democrats in Congress for possible preservation of DACA protections. Still, there is considerable fear and confusion surrounding the future of DACA recipients at the University and across the nation.
“We want to be able to direct people who need help and who are unsure, someone who is anxious and who is undocumented,” said Dorie Richards, assistant director of counseling and psychological services.
Students’ and faculty members’ reasons for attending the Sept. 8 meeting varied, from talking about personal experiences of DACA students, to sharing stories of undocumented family members and seeking information about how to help undocumented immigrants.
“I was very motivated to come to this session because I want to hear the issues that students are facing, how alumni can help if there’s any way that they might be able, and I can just help as a member of this community,” said Myra Garcia-Fernandez, senior director of University Advancement.
“I know a lot of my friends, some of my close friends, are from different places,” said Averie Ortiz, a junior anthropology major from Bakersfield.
“They’re afraid that they’re going to have to be sent back. I feel like that really affects me, considering I come from a city that has ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) checkpoints impounded, and people are really scared.”
ULV President Devorah Lieberman and Provost Jonathan Reed sent an immediate email message to the community in response to Trump’s DACA repeal announcement, indicating their unwavering support for the DACA community on campus.
They stated in the message: “The University of La Verne stands in solidarity with its impacted students.”
Ortiz said that while she appreciated the swift message of support, she wanted to know more.
“We’re not necessarily totally informed of what’s going to happen, the different policies and issues that are going to be sent out by Trump,” Ortiz said.
She added that she would like more reassurances from the ULV administration.
“It is a very sensitive time, it’s a very important time to (share information) especially being a Hispanic-serving university,” she said.
Throughout the Sept. 8 meeting details on DACA, Title IX and the University’s response to changes at the federal level were clarified.
The University still operates under California mandates for handling cases of sexual assault of students. ULV has not declared itself a sanctuary campus, but has deemed itself an “inclusive” campus.
Adopting the word “sanctuary” can result in the loss of federal funding that many students rely on as a source of financial aid.
Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and ASULV faculty adviser, reassured students that ULV will protect its DACA students.
“When Jonathan Reed spoke to the faculty … when this first came down, when President Trump (was) elected, he said with tears in his eyes, ‘I will go to jail before I let any of my students be taken away,’” he said.
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.