After President Nellis spoke to our representatives last week in Washington, I believe it is time to officially declare Ohio University a sanctuary campus. One of the founding values of our university is the belief that learning is enhanced by having a community of people from diverse backgrounds as well as the belief that all individuals in our university community are valued. The university did not make available the number of students who are affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but these are our peers, and they are affected.
Thousands of students and I walk through the alumni gateway over the entrance into College Green every day. It reads “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love." How often did we walk under these words and fail to appreciate them? Exiting College Green, we can read the words and pledge to follow them “So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God." Yet, how can we depart to better our country when we will not pledge to fight for those who are here because their parents dreamed a better life for them? These are people who are choosing to educate themselves, seeking to advance their lives, people who file taxes and work part-time jobs and volunteer and play on sports teams and mentor our children. By not outright supporting them, by standing up for DACA, and declaring our wonderful home, our beautiful college, to be a sanctuary campus is doing an injustice to them, our community members, our compatriots. We are also doing an injustice to ourselves, for we are not better serving our fellowmen and our country.
I am so proud to be an alumni of Ohio University. I am proud of the professors who taught me, and the coaches who trained me, and the teammates and friends and classmates who have shaped me to the intellectual, compassionate, thinking being that I am. And I am proud that President Nellis went to Washington last week to speak to our representatives on Capitol Hill about DACA. But it is not enough. If I learned anything from my time as a Bobcat it was that integrity of character and good citizenship matter more than any test score or grade point average.
In his farewell address in January of this year, President Obama spoke of a feeling of optimism for the state of this country. He believes in the power of young people who are inspired and hard-working and motivated to make our country strong, just, equal and whole. He described us as “unselfish, altruistic, creative and patriotic". I took his words to heart. Many of my fellow Bobcats took his words to heart. We are the young people who are influencing our country. Subjecting DACA recipients, 800,000 people like ourselves, to deportation is cruel and against the fundamental values that have made our country a beacon of hope and opportunity for centuries. We can do more than send signatures of disapproval with our peers. We can create a sanctuary campus. Defining our campus as a sanctuary campus, both symbolically and through policy, would solidify our place as an institution of progression, as we have been since we were chartered by an act of congress in 1787.
Brooke Kemerer is a 2017 alumna of Ohio University.