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Anthropology Department Urges Faust to Designate Harvard a Sanctuary Campus

By Mia C. Karr, Crimson Staff Writer

Members of the Anthropology Department called on University President Drew G. Faust and other Harvard administrators to protect undocumented students by designating Harvard a sanctuary campus and adopting a “zero-tolerance approach towards any form of hate.”

On Monday, Anthropology Department Chair Gary Urton sent an email on behalf of the department to Faust, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, University Provost Alan M. Garber, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Xiao-Li Meng, and Social Sciences Dean Claudine Gay. The email, which Urton said the entire department unanimously approved, lists seven actions the signatories believe Harvard should take to ensure the safety of undocumented students.

“We join the students, faculty, programs, and departments across the University in demanding a strong, affirmative, and unapologetic stance on this issue from our administration,” the email said.

In the wake of Donald Trump's election, the future of undocumented students has been a topic of concern among students, faculty, and administrators both at Harvard and nationwide. Last week, Harvard students circulated a petition calling for administrative action to protect undocumented students and later hosted a rally. Additionally, more than 350 faculty members signed a letter urging Faust to take action.

Though Faust has not yet responded to the Anthropology Department’s email, she was one of more than 100 college and university presidents to sign a letter, published Monday, in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects undocumented students. She also decried the “escalating numbers of cruel and frightening incidents” across the country in an email to Harvard affiliates after the election.

Paul Andrew, Harvard’s Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications, confirmed the University had received the Anthropology Department’s email and said a response is forthcoming.

In the email, the department called on administrators to designate Harvard a sanctuary campus, which would limit its cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The department also asked that Harvard institute a policy that prohibits campus police from inquiring about immigration status or enforcing immigration laws, and refuse to cooperate with any system of registration for a religion, race, or sexual orientation, like the Muslim registry proposed by the President-elect.

Shortly before the department sent the email Monday, Chief of Harvard University Police Francis D. Riley sent a message to Harvard affiliates addressing some of the department’s concerns. Riley affirmed that the police department does not ask about immigration status.

“It is not the jurisdiction, responsibility, or practice of the HUPD to police the immigration status of members of our community,” Riley wrote.

Urton said, despite Riley’s statement, the department still felt the need to distribute the email they had written and add their names to the list of supporters of undocumented students.

“Given the moment, given that we don’t know now what’s going to happen, but things look dark, it seemed important to be on the record as having stated that we support what we say in the letter,” Urton said in an interview.

In addition, the department wrote that the recent election offered “a stark reminder of our responsibility, as anthropologists and educators, to understand and address social inclusion and exclusion as processes mediated by institutions of power.”

“As anthropologists, our research, teaching and service are expressly oriented towards a cultivation of empathy, an examination and critique of inequality, and a commitment to ethics and justice,” the department wrote.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Urton said the department had not received a response from any of the recipients of the email.

—Staff writer Mia C. Karr can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @miackarr.

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