Since the election, a petition calling on the administration to designate Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus has circulated among students, alumni and community members. President Clayton Rose emailed all students and employees on November 22 in response, noting that “legal counsel tells us that we have no such power.” The email also expressed that the College will not take action to put community members “in this kind of jeopardy” unless “compelled by law.” He concluded with an expression of support to the community.

In our most recent editorial, the Orient Editorial Board endorsed the establishment of Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus. We stand by the statements we made, but we acknowledge the legal implications explained in Rose’s email and appreciate the clear and honest tone of his communication.

However, the fear and uncertainty among undocumented students and students with undocumented family members remains. Acknowledging that we don’t have a strong understanding of the relevant laws, we believe that Bowdoin can still harness its many resources as an institution and provide support structures for the community beyond campus.

Providing emotional support for undocumented students on our campus was a focus of Rose’s email. In addition to the recognition of members of our campus community, helping students who have undocumented family members should be an equal focus.

The Bowdoin Admissions website expresses a commitment to providing undocumented students “with the support and resources they need to excel.” To accomplish this goal, bringing students with undocumented family members into this conversation is crucial. If a student’s family situation is precarious, they, too, face uncertainty, which provides a barrier to experiencing Bowdoin to the fullest.

Bowdoin has an extensive network of alumni and others committed to the College. There is an opportunity for Bowdoin to harness this network in a new way given the concerns outlined in the sanctuary campus petition.

The College should utilize its resources and take advantage of its far-reaching alumni network to educate and inform undocumented students and undocumented community members about what President-elect Donald Trump’s intended legislation means for them. This could include information about individual rights or available legal counsel.

Expression of support from the campus community for students from all backgrounds should continue to be a focus. This includes facilitated conversations, safe spaces and access to on-campus resources that already exist. In addition, Bowdoin must actively pursue research into what is legally viable given the administrative structure and network available to the College. Though the promise of a sanctuary campus is not legally viable, Bowdoin must take explicit action to assist undocumented students and families in whatever way it is able to. President Rose’s email cannot be the end of this conversation.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Steff Chavez, Grace Handler, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.