Smith College adopts six-point pledge to protect undocumented students

Published: 11/29/2016 12:19:34 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Smith College leaders published a six-point pledge Monday outlining the school’s continuing efforts to protect undocumented students.

College President Kathleen ​McCartney, along with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and Debbie Duncan, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, issued the pledge.

“Immediately following the election, I had numerous conversations both with students and with faculty who had concerns about safety for our students,” McCartney said. “I think the main motivation really was to provide some reassurance and comfort to people on campus who are experiencing concerns about their own safety. Hopefully this letter is one step in doing so.”

The pledge comes as more than 1,600 Smith students, staff, faculty and alumnae signed a petition urging the college to declare itself a sanctuary of higher education.

“I strongly support the spirit of the petition. Within the limits of federal law, we must support every member of our community, including and especially those targeted by anti-immigrant actions,” McCartney wrote. “As an institution founded to expand access to education, Smith is committed to the right of every student to pursue her education with certainty and stability in a safe and supportive environment.”

McCartney wrote the college would remain committed to nondiscrimination in access to education; continue to not release information about students’ citizenship or immigration status unless compelled to do so; continue to consider undocumented applicants the same as any other potential student; connect undocumented students with supportive resources; not take any voluntary action that would put school community members at risk because of their citizenship or immigration status; and work with others in higher education to extend and renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy instituted in 2012.

The pledge, as well as the Smith community petition, comes more than a week after nearly 2,000 University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College students rallied in a move to urge college administrators to protect undocumented immigrants under the presidency of Donald Trump.

Following the protests, leaders of the five local colleges — UMass and Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges — joined about 200 of their colleagues nationwide last week in a letter to “our country’s leaders.”

DACA enables illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to defer the deportation process, assuming they are in school or have completed school and have no criminal record.

Trump has said he will move to deport these students.

The letter urges him and other leaders not to do so, calling for DACA to be “upheld, continued and expanded.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at


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