The University as a Sanctuary

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Pullias Center for Higher Education, University of Southern California


Soon after the election of Donald J. Trump as President-elect of the United States, many faculty, students, and staff throughout the country campaigned to have their campuses designated as “sanctuaries.” Although the concept of a sanctuary dates to the ancient Greek and Roman empires, it has special historical significance for the United States. For decades, sanctuaries have offered a wide range of individuals - including conscientious objectors to war and faith-based social activists - protection from targeted political prosecution (Lippert, 2013). Nevertheless, the call for a college or university to become a sanctuary is relatively new. The impetus for the call concerns President-elect Trump’s repeated demand to reverse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy and deport all undocumented individuals from the United States. Approximately 730,000 individuals who have applied and been approved for DACA are amongst those who might be deported (Hipsman, Gómez-Aguiñaga, & Capps, 2016). This report offers a brief overview of what the traditional understanding of a sanctuary has been and consider the current calls for colleges and universities to become sanctuaries.



Universities and colleges--United States, sanctuary