Geneseo modifies immigration policies, hopes to create safer campus

Geneseo has revised its immigration guidelines after SUNY sent a directive requiring the college to create regulations pertaining to immigration. The administration hopes that these policies will allow international students to feel secure on campus. (J Aaron Far/Creative Commons)

The Geneseo Administration and the University Police Department have adopted new policies to enforce immigration regulations on campus.

SUNY sent a memorandum to President Denise Battles explaining that the college should establish polices for immigration enforcement; SUNY sent guidelines and expectations of the policies as well, according to Vice President for Student & Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio. The college was then required to ratify the policy changes that were developed by the SUNY Chancellor’s office.

SUNY decided to make these policy changes because of a discussion on whether or not SUNY campuses would respond to the current political climate by becoming sanctuary campuses, according to Bonfiglio.

The five new policies are as follows: Geneseo’s University Police Department is dedicaed to respecting diplomats’ freedoms, including immunities stated by federal law, meaning that diplomats’ rights will continue to be respected and upheld on the Geneseo campus. 

The next policy prevents UPD from stopping or arresting individuals related to their immigration status, and the third new policy prevents UPD from questioning about the immigration status of an individual. 

The fourth policy point calls for a subpoena for information about any individual affiliated with the college to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Patrol. An agent from ICE or CBP cannot contact the school asking for information on someone due to their status as an immigrant without first obtaining a court order because that would be considered an investigation.

The fifth policy point forbids ICE or CBP access to persons associated with immigration laws. If an agent from either of those two organizations came to campus to find someone who may be violating immigration laws, they will not have access to that person.

This is the first time Geneseo has ever implemented policies of this nature, but this does provide Geneseo with a basic outline of how to deal with immigration issues in the future, according to Bonfiglio.

“All of the expectations affirm the values of the college that we already have of community and inclusion,” Bonfiglio said.

Muslim Student Association vice president junior Nadia Kazi said she believes these new policies will be beneficial to the campus climate.

“I think the people on campus will be happy about these policies; they will feel more safe,” Kazi said.

There is at least one member of the MSA who holds a green card and Kazi feels these policies will have a positive impact on him, according to Kazi.

“He always mentions in the meetings that he feels isolated in this country because of where he comes from and something like this—knowing that the campus is doing something to make him feel at home—is definitely going to help,” MSA secretary senior Alpha Barry said.

 Barry considers the efforts that college campuses are making to allow their students to feel safe to be a step in the right direction.

Violating these policies infringes students’ academic freedom, according to Bonfiglio. He believes that when students feel unsafe, they will face difficulties in learning what they want to learn.

“Learning can only take place when people have a certain level of security and feel a certain level of safety … of being at home,” Bonfiglio said, “and I think that all these statements and policies will contribute to a sense of student safety and belonging.”