I hope this note finds you well and that the winter break afforded you time with family and friends. As we did last year, we begin the spring semester with a profound and meaningful series of events around the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though Bucknell business has taken me away from campus for part of the week, I am grateful for and inspired by the members of our community who dedicated themselves to the weeklong celebration of Dr. King through the MLK Week series Charleston, Rwanda and the Possibilities for Peace. I hope many of you have had the opportunity to take part in at least some of the week's activities.
I write to you today about a topic that has generated a great deal of discussion on campuses across the country during the past two months: the concept of a "sanctuary campus." Although some schools have adopted the label, which on its face may be reassuring, the term "sanctuary campus" lacks a universal definition and offers no legal protection. A common theme underlying the term seems to be a representation that a self-described "sanctuary" institution will prohibit immigration authorities from entering campus unless required to do so by a court-issued warrant. In practice, however, such a prohibition is not feasible. By their very nature, university campuses are open environments where students, faculty, staff and visitors come and go freely. I am confident that "sanctuary" schools in large urban centers, for instance, are not erecting checkpoints along their many miles of streets and sidewalks in order to determine the employment of each individual who crosses onto and through their campuses. In fact, stops of that nature would seem to run counter to our identity as an institution of higher learning.
Additionally, institutions such as Bucknell that sponsor foreign national faculty and staff, or participate in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for international students and visitors, must agree to permit various federal agencies — including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — to conduct on-site compliance reviews, sometimes unannounced. If Bucknell refused to agree to such obligations, it would lose the opportunity to bring to campus valued and talented individuals who, in turn, help forge a richer, more diverse learning community.
These are among the reasons Bucknell has joined most colleges and universities across the country in not adopting the label "sanctuary campus." We do not need a label to reaffirm our commitment to respecting and protecting the privacy of our community members. Some examples of that commitment include:
• Release of Information – As you may be aware, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the information contained in student education records. Bucknell will not disclose FERPA-protected information in response to a third-party request without either (1) a student's permission, or (2) a properly issued subpoena or warrant. It is important to understand that "directory information" — which includes, among other elements, a student's name, address, telephone number and major — is not protected by FERPA unless a student takes additional steps to request its protection. You can find a complete listing of the categories of directory information at bucknell.edu/FERPA. This link also provides details on how students can block the disclosure of directory information.
If an immigration enforcement officer — or any other individual, including parents and members of the media — were to request (1) anything more than directory information, or (2) ANY information regarding a student who has requested that directory information not be disclosed, Bucknell would first require a subpoena or warrant. Bucknell would provide the student with notice of the subpoena prior to producing the requested information unless doing so would violate a court order.
• Undocumented Status – While Bucknell is required to maintain certain information regarding international students here on student or exchange visas, we do not maintain a record identifying undocumented students. Again, if we were asked by authorities to provide information about students who might be undocumented, we would not comply unless required by a warrant or subpoena.
• Involvement of Public Safety in Enforcement Activities – While Bucknell does not bar federal, state or local authorities from campus for the reasons discussed above, we are not required to participate in immigration enforcement activities. Bucknell's Department of Public Safety does not play any role in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and, again, will not do so without a subpoena or warrant.
While the above points are not new to Bucknell, I have recently directed the appropriate members of my senior staff to review their importance with the University offices most likely to receive requests regarding student information.
I, along with other university presidents across the country, have called for the continued protection of undocumented students, including those currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. On Nov. 22, 2016, I added my name to the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students. I have also voiced my support for the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, legislation introduced on Jan. 12, which would provide work authorization and relief from deportation for individuals with and eligible for DACA status.
I will continue to act on Bucknell's behalf in accordance with a commitment that we, as a community, must regularly reaffirm: the rejection of discrimination and intolerance, and the endless work of fostering a more diverse and inclusive Bucknell.
John C. Bravman