By Mariah McCloskey
The Senate of the Student Government Association on February 6 passed a resolution rejecting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, calling on university administration to devise a formal plan to protect students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
“I thought it would be appropriate for student representatives to officially express their disapproval of Trump policies through a resolution and to also urge our school to protect vulnerable students,” said Adrian Orozco, a senator-at-large who drafted the resolution. “I wanted to write this because I saw that other schools’ SGAs were passing similar resolutions and the student body’s support of immigrants.”
The resolution says that Trump has threatened to end programs like DACA, a measure aimed to provide undocumented children with education in the United States. Many colleges around the country have devised plans to protect undocumented students. Dr. Gabriel Esteban, president of the university, has pledged to support these undocumented students, but “a concrete plan for Seton Hall is needed” if DACA is ended, Orozco said.
The roll call vote, an atypical procedure for SGA, found 18 in favor, zero against, and six abstentions. Five other senators were absent. Two of the six who abstained were the School of Diplomacy senators, Michael Roma and Matthew Schaller.
Roma said he abstained from the vote because he is currently “an employee of the executive branch,” and under the Hatch Act of 1939, he is prohibited from “engaging in some forms of political activity.” Roma declined to specify his employment with the federal government.
Schaller said his reason for abstaining was that he believed there were “other ways in going about dealing with this important issue.”
“Even in a free society, you must have laws pertaining to immigration,” he added.
All three freshman senators voted in favor of the resolution. Senators Rishi Shah, Bill Kuncken, and Jacob Abel agreed that Seton Hall should be a place of acceptance and, according to Abel, “a place that promotes education for all.”
“I am a firm believer in the principle of social justice,” Kuncken stated. “Consequently, given our school’s Catholic identity, I would hope that our university would reflect that ideal. I think that it is our responsibility to help those fleeing from turmoil, especially people driven and bold enough to pursue a higher education against all odds.”
“Those who may be protected under DACA should not live in fear on our campus – that is not what the foundation of our country was built on,” Shah said. “We should show we accept everyone and will do anything to protect our peers.”