Faculty Senate resolves to support students affected by DACA

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The Faculty Senate resolved Thursday to support members of the TCU community affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that DACA was ending in six months and that applications to the program were no longer being accepted. DACA was enacted by then-President Barack Obama through an executive order. It provided a renewable two-year deferral from deportation to some people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It was open to people who were under age 31 as of June 15, 2012, who had resided here continuously, were in school or high school graduates, in the armed services or Coast Guard and never convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.

Trump called on Congress to enact legislation that can take the place of DACA in the six month period before its official end.

Chancellor Victor Boschini sent out a campus-wide email Wednesday that spoke of supporting students and others in the TCU community affected by the policy change. During its first meeting of the new school year, the Senate reaffirmed Boschini’s message in a resolution it said was in line with the values of the TCU community.

The resolution states:

“The TCU Faculty Senate, in its role as the representative body of the TCU faculty, joins Chancellor Boschini and the TCU Administration in reaffirming our commitment to TCU students and other members of the greater TCU Community affected directly or indirectly by recent announcements regarding the DACA program. We join the call for the U.S. Congress to expeditiously pass legislation that will permanently remove the uncertainty and fear being experienced by those who find themselves in legal limbo through no fault of their own. Keeping the promises made by the U. S. Government to these honest, hard-working, and valued members of our TCU family is the right thing to do and is in keeping with TCU’s Mission to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community” and our core Values of “academic achievement, personal freedom and integrity, the dignity and respect of the individual, and a heritage of inclusiveness, tolerance and service.” Should Congress fail to act in a timely manner, we call upon President Trump to reconsider any discontinuation of the DACA program.”

Though much of the statement was in regards to the actions of Congress and President Donald Trump, some members of the Faculty Senate preferred to focus on the impact on the students themselves.

Jesús Castro-Balbi, a cello professor and former chair of the Faculty Senate, said he hoped the TCU faculty was not losing focus on the effects this may have on the student body.

“It is not for us to debate how the government should proceed,” Castro-Balbi said. “Our duty as faculty is to directly restate our commitments to mentoring and caring for our students.”

Though the resolution passed the Faculty Senate, there were faculty members who viewed the language as too ambiguous. Some pointed to the need for more specific requests in terms of a policy change by the U.S. government.

“How do we want it resolved?” asked Patricia Walters, an accounting professor. “There’s a whole long list of bad outcomes that could be the resolution.”

Others felt that the resolution was too neutral in its wording.

Eric Yorkston, an associate marketing professor, said the campaign message of the TCU Lead On program is that TCU needs to take a strong stance on issues like this. 

“Either we have a certain stand and we should take it,” Yorkston said, “Or we should be silent.”

There were also members of the Faculty Senate who said the resolution should represent both sides of the issue more clearly.  Nursing professor P.J. Frable said not everyone has the same perspective within the TCU community.

Others, like mathematics professor Greg Friedman, said every diverse perspective in the community is represented in the Senate by their elected members.

“I don’t see how we’re ignoring anybody by taking a vote,” he said. “Not everything passed in the Senate has to be passed unanimously.”

The Senate also discussed issues with departmental website changes during the open forum of the meeting. Professors from the English, Spanish and theatre departments spoke about website changes impacting their departments. All three professors said their departmental websites are missing important information.

Theater professor Krista Scott said prospective students who wish to apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre program are missing information about the additional application requirements required for the BFA program. 

Scott said the current design of the websites makes the different departments indistinguishable.

“It feels like we’ve been all asked to be the same state in the United States,” Scott said. “I feel like we should be able to fly our own state flag.”

Ted Legatski, the Senate chair and an associate professor of professional practice, said he hopes Provost Nowell Donovan will create a committee to address this issue.

Donovan said he felt the issue of the website changes might need to be “moved up the flagpole.”

The TCU Faculty Senate meets the first Thursday of every month in the Brown-Lupton University Union chambers. Meetings are open to visitors.