Adams State trustees on Friday pass resolution, minus ‘sanctuary’


ALAMOSA —Instead of adopting a sanctuary campus resolution, the Board of Trustees for Adams State University adopted a resolution of equity during their Friday meeting. Essentiality, the resolution reaffirms diversity practices already in place rather than enact new policies and omits all mentions of the word “sanctuary.”

There was an opportunity for public comments before the draft was amended into its final form. Two people spoke in favor and no one appeared in person to speak against the resolution, though the trustees received many in-person comments and emailed comments since the special meeting on March 13.

English professor Aaron Abeyta approached the microphone first. “I know that every position that comes before you is very difficult and those that involve human interest are especially difficult,” Abeyta said. “I encourage you to exercise that courage on behalf of our most vulnerable students, and in so doing, make ASU live up to the vision and mission that presumably guides us.”

Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management Eric Carpio spoke on behalf of political science professor LatinX Caucus Rep. Mari Centeno. LatinX originally presented the resolution to the board on Feb. 16.

“On April 25 a federal judge blocked the administration from enforcing a threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities,” said Carpio reading Centeno’s statement. “It would be difficult for the administration to defund sanctuary cities, and sanctuary campuses have even greater protection due to policies such as [Family Education Rights Privacy Act] and other similar policies.

“[Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] students are now being detained. So our fears are not about the unlikely the possibility of defunding but for our students is unfortunately being validated.”

Centeno’s statement also mentioned that the unclear definition of “sanctuary” can work in the university’s favor and that five states, 106 cities and 630 counties have declared themselves as sanctuaries of some form.

Student trustee John Owsley and faculty trustee Robert Benson both reported that faculty and students supported the draft, mentioning that the Associated Student and Faculty Senate passed an earlier version of the resolution that included the word “sanctuary.”

However, individual board opinion and public opinion swayed minds to remove “sanctuary” in order to not ruffle political feathers.

“I see a parallel motivation,” said trustee Reeves Brown. “It has less to do with ensuring student safety and more to do with making a statement against the current administration, which I don’t think is appropriate or our role.”

Vice chair of the board Kathy Rogers, who headed a subcommittee that edited the resolution, said that the term was almost not included in the draft.

“I know that taking out the word ‘sanctuary’ waters it down too much for the committee’s liking,” said Rogers. “I also understand that the trustees, including myself, wouldn’t be comfortable taking it forward. We’re in a quandary here.”

Rogers sits on the board of ASU’s foundation as a trustee liaison and said they weren’t in favor of it, along with the negative public comments she has read.

“I’m not comfortable with the word ‘sanctuary’ and never have been,” she added.

Trustee Wendell Pryor was also concerned about the public comments that focused on the wording. “My fear is that people focus on the term,” he said, “and not the content of the document. It seems to lead us down a path that we don’t control. It’s a loaded term.”

Board chair Arnold Salazar reminded the trustees, especially the new ones that he swore in that morning, that they took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution.

“We don’t have the option to not follow the law,” Salazar said. “We don’t have the option to speak as individuals. What I would do as an individual may vary greatly from what I would be willing to compromise in a statement that reflects the collective thinking of the board.”

Trustee Michele Lueck questioned why the board was passing a resolution that did nothing new. “Are we resolving to do anything differently here?” asked Lueck. “If we’re not resolved to do anything differently than what we’re doing before, doesn’t that jeopardize us? I’m comfortable with reaffirming but I just don’t know the purpose of it.”

Salazar responded that it’s important to reaffirm.

“The purpose is to send a clear message that we understand what the issue is,” he said. “We’re concerned for every student that comes here and will offer them protection within the law.”

Hearing that ASU wouldn’t pass a sanctuary campus resolution, Abeyta expressed wanting to work with Rogers and the committee more.

“The LatinX Caucus would prefer that it would be pulled as opposed it being passed in its current state. If it’s passed with the revisions it leaves LatinX Caucus very little recourse and we would like to have said recourse.”

The entire revised resolution can be read online at www.adams.edu/news/may1716.php. The old draft is found at https://www.adams.edu/president/sanctuary-campus-draft-resolution.pdf

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