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The Source

Our Commitment to Support Students Regardless of Immigration Status or Religious Affiliation

November 21, 2016

Many members of the Lewis & Clark community have shared concerns regarding the new White House administration’s proposals as they relate to Muslims and also to possible changes in immigration laws and policies. We share these concerns and are strongly committed to supporting and protecting all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status or religion. As threats of deportation or registration impact individuals, they impact our entire campus. We are dedicated to continuing to work with undocumented and religious members of our community in the coming weeks, months, and years to ensure their safety and security.

Though we do not yet know what changes in policy and enforcement will occur, Lewis & Clark has always and will always support members of our community to the fullest extent possible. Under current practice, Lewis & Clark treats all students equitably in accordance with our values of diversity and inclusion. Accordingly, the following is true:

  • Lewis & Clark treats the citizenship status and religious affiliation of the members of our community (students, faculty and staff) as confidential and will not release that information without the member’s consent.
  • Information such as the citizenship status and religious affiliation of students is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA prohibits colleges from disclosing such information concerning a student to outside parties without either that student’s consent or the application of an exception such as a validly issued subpoena. Thus, Lewis & Clark will not share with the federal government any information on the immigration status or religious affiliation of students unless required by the law.
  • Before being allowed on campus, law enforcement, including immigration officials, are required to check in with campus safety, describe why they want to come on campus and show credentials.

Lewis & Clark is located in Portland, which is a sanctuary city, and Multnomah, a sanctuary county. Sanctuary, however, does not have a universally accepted definition. In its narrowest sense, sanctuary means that an entity will not use its police or other resources to cooperate with federal immigration agents or accept federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants or turn over protected information concerning its members. In its broadest sense, sanctuary means that an entity will defy lawful orders in order to shield and protect its members from the law.

In recent days, some colleges and universities have chosen to label themselves sanctuary colleges. Others have avoided the label and stated the practices and protections they have in place that protect all students, regardless of religious affiliation or immigration status. Similar to those we’ve outlined above, most of the practices and protections of the colleges and universities that have forgone the label are equal to or greater than those offered by some of the sanctuary colleges.

Further, due to the ambiguity regarding the term sanctuary, adopting such a label may carry with it connotations that go beyond actual practices and protections. And, having such a label may lead to detrimental consequences for the very people we are trying to assist and support, without actually addressing the needs of these individuals. We believe it is paramount to do everything in our power under the law to protect and support our community members and avoid exposing them to needless risks that could result from adopting an ambiguous and potentially problematic label.

To best protect and support our students, a number of groups on campus are engaged in continuing discussions. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Katie Kodat will meet with various departments to consider issues related to Lewis & Clark’s general policies and procedures for support of any undocumented students, and a Committee on Diversity and Inclusion task force is working in partnership with the LC Sanctuary Campus group, a group of law students, and General Counsel David Ellis to investigate and advise the president and Board of Trustees regarding the additional needs of targeted individuals and the best way to address these needs through on-campus or off-campus resources.

The task force welcomes your input and includes Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Steverson, Director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement Nathan Baptiste, Associate Professor of Philosophy Joel Martinez, Director of Administrative Services Gena Perrine, Teresa Rios CAS ’18, and Kate Smock CAS ’19. Although the task force is continuing to work on assembling resources, here is a short list of resources already identified:

Nonprofits in Portland that can assist in finding legal counsel
  • Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, Program Manager: John Herrera, 2740 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202, 503-231-4866
  • Immigrant Counseling Services, 519 SW Park Ave, Suite 610, Portland, OR 97205, 503-221-1689
  • Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR), Program Manager: Vesna Vila, 7931 NE Halsey St., Ste. 314, Portland, OR 97213, 503-284-3002, 
Online resources

We also call to your attention to a letter that Barry has signed in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as well as a letter to President-elect Trump from college and university presidents that he helped to draft.

As members of groups that have experienced the use of governmental tools to deprive us of our civil liberties, the two of us care deeply about these matters. We are committed to continuing to work deliberately, carefully, and with all due speed to further address our community’s needs.


Barry Glassner
President and Professor

Janet Steverson
Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Professor