UMass students to walk out, strike Friday for a Sanctuary Campus


Protesters chant in front of the Student Union for a sanctuary campus on Feb. 3, 2017. (Julie Shamgochian/Amherst Wire)

AMHERST –Students and community will go on strike at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday to demand the university become a sanctuary campus.

The student strike, scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Student Union, encourages students to not attend any classes and to only support student-run businesses such as People’s Market and Earth Foods.

According to the event’s Facebook page, various educational activities will be offered, ranging from an “Art Project” to talks given by a UMass professor and doctoral student.

Anna-Claire Simpson, an event organizer, shared the group’s most recent letter addressed to UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and UMass President Martin Meehan.

In the letter that Simpson shared, their renewed demands are as follows:

  • We demand that UMass administration pick our side and declare UMass a Sanctuary Campus system encompassing all five campuses.
  • We demand that UMass Amherst commit to not complying with ICE under ANY circumstances.
  • We demand that UMass Amherst support OUR efforts to make Amherst a Sanctuary city.
  • We demand that UMass open its doors to refugees; to dedicating financial assistance, housing, comprehensive psychological support services, and legal support to those seeking asylum.
  • We demand that UMass establish an action plan for supporting Muslim students, faculty and staff and for supporting those students, faculty and staff who are racially profiled in connection with the Muslim ban and at risk of deportation or losing their immigration status.
  • We demand that UMass protect and assist students, faculty and staff from countries that are currently banned and students, faculty and staff from any countries added to that ban in the future.
  •      “Protect and assist” means: using all the legal, administrative and police resources at their disposal to protect students from discrimination and attacks from federal agencies.
  •      We demand that the UMass system declare itself a SANCTUARY SYSTEM; that UMass commit to not allocating any resources to assist ICE or any federal agency in identifying, locating and deporting undocumented immigrants.
  •      We demand that UMass commit to continued support of DACAmented students, regardless of whether DACA is overturned.
  • We demand that UMass seize the opportunity to be leaders in the U.S. academy; to take a stance in the face of injustice.
  • Finally, we demand that UMass engage with US, the community whom you represent. Silencing us will NEVER work.”

Through the student strike, the UMass Sanctuary Movement group hopes that administrative officials will respond to their demands.

This latest movement comes at the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order which prevented people of seven select countries from entering the United States. Under this executive order, three UMass students were unable to leave or return to UMass. However, this executive order was subsequently suspended in court.

Last semester, the UMass Sanctuary Movement group outlined their demands for a sanctuary campus in a letter addressed to Subbaswamy.

At that time, they demanded UMass protect all of its people who are undocumented immigrants or refugees, refrain from collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and emphasize its commitment to sanctuary campus through community engagement.

However, their demands were left half-answered. The response released by administrators did not explicitly declare UMass a sanctuary campus.

Email Wei Cai at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @weicaiumass.

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