Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,
Earlier today, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s effort to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. I am writing, at this inflection point in our nation’s history, in response to the Court’s decision and to reaffirm the College’s longstanding commitment to our students with DACA status.
DACA students embody what we seek in a liberal arts education: the potential for education to change lives for the better. Our students with DACA status, who have time and again excelled in the classroom and beyond—despite being confined to the very fringes of our society—deserve the right to earn a Gettysburg education; to pursue lives of meaning and contribution; and to experience the full social, cultural, and economic opportunities that a college education makes possible. In addition, our strength and vibrancy as an intellectual community is dependent upon our ability to attract, support, and empower diversity, in all its dimensions. Students with DACA status have been and continue to be vital to our collective search for truth and knowledge.
Early in the spring semester, we proactively arranged for individual, pro bono student appointments with the College’s immigration attorney to discuss a full range of options upon a potential repeal. Within these conversations, we reiterated to our DACA students that Gettysburg College would commit to meeting their educational expenses with our own institutional financial aid funds, if a repeal were to occur. This policy was first articulated by the College in December 2016 and it is one to which I am firmly committed.
In that context, it is important to note the limited nature of the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court did not rule that the government may not rescind DACA, only that the means taken by the Department of Homeland Security in 2017 failed to comply with various administrative requirements. This means that the status of DACA remains in doubt and with it the assurances that students deserve to do their best work. Beyond that, I also recognize that DACA students too often experience marginalization and discriminatory treatment based on their race and immigration status. In response, earlier this year, we compiled a list of available resources for students with DACA status on the Office of Diversity & Inclusion website. I would encourage all members of our community to review the full list of DACA resources to more fully understand the challenges our fellow Gettysburgians continue to experience in their day-to-day lives, and to determine new ways we may support them as we move forward as a community.
A Gettysburg education is rooted in exploration, in discovery, and in learning through difference. I want to thank all of you who have stepped forward over the last several years to guide and support our DACA students. From members of our faculty and staff, to participants in our Center for Public Service, Center for Career Engagement, and Butterfly Coalition, your endeavors have truly made a difference in the lives of your fellow campus community members.
Together, let us continue to leverage our voices, our good thinking, and our actions to support all of those who call this campus home.