In addition to demonstrations and calls for conversation, Bowdoin students reacted in the week after Donald Trump’s presidential win by creating a petition calling on the administration to designate the College as a sanctuary campus for undocumented immigrants. As of press time, the petition had 522 signees, which included students, alumni, parents, faculty and community members. 

This week, more than 100 colleges have called for the creation of sanctuary campuses, including Harvard, Columbia, UMass Amherst and Wesleyan. The movement is similar to the concept of sanctuary cities, municipalities across the country where local law enforcement declines to release information about undocumented immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Trump has promised to mobilize ICE to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants. 

Every campus has a different definition of a sanctuary campus, but many include steps which would ensure the safety and privacy of undocumented students. 

The Bowdoin petition, among other demands, asks for the College’s immediate assurance of its support of undocumented students, refrainment from voluntary information sharing with ICE and refusal of physical access to campus to ICE. It is addressed directly to President Clayton Rose, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion Leana Amaez, Director of the Student Multicultural Center Benjamin Harris and Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols. 

Many students also took the post-election political conversation outside of the College, attending protests in Brunswick or Portland. 

Jhadha King ’20 gave an impromptu speech at a rally in Portland last Friday. 

“I just want to thank everybody for being here because this is the most safe I’ve felt in awhile. Being a woman of color surrounded by this many white people that are all marching for the same cause that I am has made me so empowered,” she told the crowd. 

King was surprised by the results of the election but is curious to learn why so many people voted for Trump. 

“I don’t just want to be angry or mad or resentful at people. I wanted to understand the other side of it. I didn’t want to base everything off my common misconceptions,” she said. 

King said she will continue to protest off campus in an effort to spark more dialogue and keep the movement going. At Bowdoin, she felt that lack of political diversity left her searching for answers about the results.

“It feels like here you have to have a conversation about it … and still go back to your dorm and be surrounded by the unknown of why people would vote this way,” King said.

Daniel Castro Bonilla ’17 attended an on-campus Rally For Love and Strength organized by seniors Hayley Nicholas and Julia Berkman-Hill last Friday and a protest in Brunswick on Saturday and hopes that such events will help those targeted by Trump’s words feel safe. 

“A lot of people after Trump’s victory feel they are not safe on this campus, they’re not safe in Brunswick, they’re not safe in the United States,” he said. “When you’re out there demonstrating and rallying up you’re telling others that this is a space where we do support you and we do welcome you.” 

At its Wednesday meeting, BSG discussed how it could better support students. Members contemplated the possibility of establishing Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus, though BSG did not create the petition in circulation. 

While the number of undocumented students at Bowdoin is relatively small, Class Representative to the BSG Beatrice Cabrera ’20 said that the symbolism of the petition matters. 

Representative At-Large Jacob Russell ’17 suggested that BSG could also help with immigration lawyers.

“There is privilege on campus. There are a lot of people who know lawyers,” he said. “We can get immigration lawyers.”

Cabrera said that regardless of political beliefs, students should help one another. 

“We are all part of the Bowdoin community and that comes first before who is left and who is right,” she said.

BSG members also thought about how to lead campus conversation about the election results.

“In our position as BSG we can only act as a conduit for conversation at Bowdoin,” said Vice President for the Treasury Irfan Alam ’18.

Alam said his place of privilege and his position on BSG gives him the ability to help others process the results of the election. 

“I felt like because I have that privilege, I have a responsibility to use my voice and to fight for those that felt very disempowered by the results of the election,” he said. 

Last Friday, BSG hosted an open discussion that used software allowing students to submit questions and comments anonymously that were then projected onto a large monitor. Although students made comments, Alam said BSG still has work to do to encourage students with more conservative opinions to speak up. 

“It seems that Donald Trump supporters—and this is not me speaking on their behalf—did still feel like it was a hostile environment,” he said. “Perhaps the anonymity prevented them from feeling like they would be personally attacked, however, they still felt that potentially their ideas would be attacked and that persistent requesting for them to speak up was just people chomping at the bit to jump on an idea that was contrary to theirs.”