President Clayton Rose reaffirmed the College’s support for undocumented students in light of President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In response to the decision, a large group of students will travel from the College to attend a rally in Portland on Friday.
In an email to the Bowdoin community on Tuesday, Rose expressed deep disappointment in Trump’s decision and reminded the community of the ways in which the College can and will continue to protect students within the limits of the law.
Students have responded positively to Rose’s message of support.
The number of students on campus potentially affected by the decision remains undisclosed due to the desire to protect the safety and privacy of those individuals.
Kathleen Armenta ’21, a first-generation and Mexican-American student, invited the Bowdoin community in a campus-wide email to wear the colors blue and purple on Thursday in solidarity with those affected.
Armenta grew up with her immigrant parents in the southern part of Tucson, Ariz., which has seen an outpouring of activism since Tuesday’s announcement.
“However, being here at Bowdoin, I was very surprised to see very little to no activity or concerns on the issue of DACA, which led to my initiation, starting a community-based effort at Bowdoin,” wrote Armenta in an email to the Orient.
“I was in my mother’s womb when she and my father crossed the border in hopes of providing a better future. I was fortunate to be born in the United States,” she wrote. “However, if my parents had not been able to cross before my birth and had later on succeeded to cross, I would also be affected by the termination of DACA.”
In February, a group of students presented a petition to President Rose demanding a number of steps for the College to take to support students potentially affected by the Trump administration’s policies. These steps included, among others, providing pro bono legal assistance to students who may be affected and guaranteeing full financial assistance to students who may lose federal aid.
Organizers also urged greater transparency on the part of Bowdoin’s administration about the resources already provided.
Cesar Siguencia ’18, a student involved in the creation and presentation of the petition, said he is pleased with how the College has addressed the petition demands since the spring, and with how Rose has responded in recent days.
“I’m really satisfied with [Rose’s response] at the moment … especially him saying not just what the College is doing but how we can be involved with the process too–calling our senators, giving a link to all these things we can do to help,” said Siguencia.
Siguencia’s family was undocumented until 2004.
“One of the biggest reasons I’m really passionate about it is because through my parents’ narratives I’ve come to appreciate the extreme privilege that it is to be a citizen of the United States of America,” he said.
In his email, Rose suggested that students looking for ways to act could reach out to their representatives and senators in their home states.
“You can send an email or post your views on social media, but the most effective way to participate is to call their offices and speak with a staff member,” Rose wrote. “There will be much discussion and debate on the future of DACA in the coming months, and this is an opportunity for your voice to matter.”
In his message, Rose said that the College has communicated its concern with members of the Maine Congressional delegation.
The Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Executive Committee, in coordination with the Student Center for Multicultural Life, is making arrangements for students who wish to protest the DACA decision.
Friday afternoon, there will be a poster-making event held at 30 College St. from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., where students will prepare for the “Fight for DACA Rally” in Portland later in the evening. Another rally will take place in Brunswick on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“The administration is doing a great job of taking the lead on the legal issues and how Bowdoin as an institution can support logistically students who may be affected by Trump’s decision on DACA, so that’s out of my hands” said BSG President Irfan Alam ’18. “What the BSG has been trying to do is think about how we can further support students and talk about these issues on campus.”
According to Alam, over 60 students have indicated they will attend the rally and transportation is being arranged for those students. He expects many more students to attend the rally on their own.
“In Arizona, there are nearly 28,000 DACA recipients. Deporting these students to a country they don’t know, when they deserve the opportunity to stay in a country they do know, which is the United States. I stand with Dreamers and they deserve to stay,” said Armenta.