SGA votes to petition SHU to protect DACA students

The Student Government Association (SGA) has approved a resolution in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

President Dr. A Gabriel Esteban and SHU have promised to protect DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students, but have not declared any sort of formal plans. The resolution seeks that a plan be put in place.

Graphic via Wikimeda Commons/DHS

The resolution was spearheaded by Adrian Orozco, a sophomore political science major and the senate secretary of SGA. The resolution was passed after a roll call vote, which means the names of all SGA senators who voted are attached to their vote and made public.

According to the roll call vote, provided by Orozco, the vote was 18 in favor, zero against and six abstained. Five senators were absent and therefore did not vote either.

Those who voted in favor of the resolution are Adrian Orozco, Zachariah Boyer, Kyjah Chandler, Michelle Pan, Maharsh Barot, Sara Johnson, Josie Martinez, Amanda Moreira, Sahil Sharma, Vinay Trambadia, Christian Krommenhoek, Rishi Shah, Bill Kuncken, Jacob Abel, Kristin Donadio, Daniel Kontoh-Boateng, Billy Toney and James Gebhardt.

Chris Morbelli, Anne Bucca, Kathryn Carson, Michael Roma, Mathew Schaller and Jong Woong Park abstained.

The immigration resolution reads that Trump passed executive orders targeting undocumented immigrants and incoming refugees. Further, it says that Trump threatened to end programs like DACA, which allows undocumented students across the country to get an education. In continuation, the resolution points out that colleges around the country have devised plans on how to protect their undocumented students.

“President Gabriel Esteban has pledged his support for students that benefit from DACA but has not conveyed how Seton Hall University will protect its undocumented students from federal action,” the resolution reads.

“The Senate of the Seton Hall University Student Government Association does hereby reject President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies,” it continues. Further, “this Senate asks the Office of the President of Seton Hall University to pledge that it will not voluntarily comply with federal authorities in the event that DACA is repealed and that it develop a relevant strategy to support its undocumented students.”

Orozco said in an email interview that he wrote the resolution because he thinks SHU needs to do more than just pledge support for undocumented students. SHU needs to create a strategy explaining how it will protect students affected by a DACA repeal.

“A formal resolution was necessary to officially denounce Trump’s orders on behalf of the student body,” Orozco said.

“SGA shouldn’t be silent on social issues that affect students,” he added. “It’s SGA’s responsibility to express the will of the students and put pressure on the school’s administration to effect change.”

Orozco, an immigrant from Colombia, moved to the United States when he was 4 years old. He said his experience made him a stronger believer in immigration reform but the human factor of this issue is what led him to compose this resolution. He explained that this is a humanitarian issue that affects people directly and it is about having compassion for others.

He said most immigrants come to the U.S. for better opportunities and that they improve the country as well.

Two of Orozco’s friends were deferred from being deported because of DACA, showing the power of the program. He also said he will make sure Esteban receives a copy of the resolution. However, he is unsure how Seton Hall administrators will respond to SGA’s plea.

Zachariah Boyer, a senior political science major, is the parliamentarian Arts and Sciences senator. Having voted in favor of the resolution, he said passing it was important. Boyer added that he expected the resolution to pass but did not expect there to be as many abstentions as there were.

He said SGA is having this conversation about students being deported and how it’s not fair because immigrant students have done nothing wrong in his opinion.

“I think passing this (resolution) shows individuals, if there are any on campus, that hey there is a community here who wants to support you,” Boyer said.

Boyer wanted to make sure a roll call vote was held so students know who voted for the resolution and who to look at for support if they need help. He added that SGA will be talking to the administration about this resolution.

“That’s the next step, to inspire a conversation,” Boyer said.

Maggie Bach, assistant dean of Students for Leadership Development and the SGA adviser, said via email, “I think it’s great that SGA is taking up national issues that have the potential to affect students. They are using their collective voice to advocate a point of view that is important to many of their constituents.”

Some senators who abstained from voting explained their perspective.

Morbelli, a senior political science major and at-large senator, said via email he abstained because he has “conflict of interest regarding past and potential future employment with Local and Federal Governments.”

Park is a junior political science and history major who is a part of the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and is the military science senator of SGA. He explained in an email interview that he abstained because of his position in the ROTC, which means he will conduct himself in a non-biased and non-political manner. He said he made this promise to his constituents and the United States Army and the U.S. when he signed up to become an officer.

“My abstention does not mean that I do support or do not support the immigration resolution. It also does not mean that the opinions or thoughts of the Army or my constituents are reflected in my actions,” Park said. He added that he respects the decisions of his fellow SGA senators in regards to how each of them voted.

“I hope this isn’t the last time my fellow senators speak out on such a contested issue,” Orozco said. “I hope we speak and act more boldly in the future on broad social issues and campus life issues as well.”

Editor’s note: Gary Phillips also contributed to this report.

Samantha Todd can be reached at samantha.todd@student.shu.edu.

 

Author: Samantha Todd

Samantha Todd is a journalism major at Seton Hall University where she serves as News Copy Editor of The Setonian. In addition, Todd received the Tim O’Brien Journalism Scholarship. You can follow Todd on Twitter @SamanthaLTodd.

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