In the fight against apartheid, Desmond Tutu is famous for saying, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Without an official letter of response, the Board of Trustees denied the sanctuary campus petition, deciding to remain neutral in this time of oppression. More upsetting than this, the university has had no dialogue on this issue since Dr. Tegart emailed students, faculty, and staff inviting them to participate in a campus discussion on February 13. Since then, the university has fallen silent on this important issue and topic. This privilege of silence is the privilege of remaining neutral.
Bellarmine University can no longer remain silent in this fight. It must stand up for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students. While the response from the university has been, “We do not even know if these students are at this school,” it does not hide that fact that these students are here and deserve the university’s support and protection.
The denial of this petition not only shows a lack of support for DACA and undocumented students, but has shown every minority student on this campus that this school will not stand up for them and the rights they deserve when it is their turn on the chopping block. While this is an extremely important point of discussion, it has not been made in the University’s silence.
It is time for Bellarmine University to discuss and to take actions from their discussions. These discussions must include the board of trustees’ attendance and their openness to dialog. I write this letter to the editor to challenge the board to show up for these discussions. To host these discussions. To invite students, faculty and staff to these discussions. To not remain silent in this time of oppression.