A sanctuary is defined as “a place of refuge and safety,” and sanctuary status was the main topic at the last Las Positas and Chabot District Board meeting on Oct. 24.
According to many of the attendees, this was the furthest thing felt due to the location being moved from Chabot College in Hayward to the Dublin District Office.
The purpose of this discussion was to decide the status of the duel district campuses, LPC and Chabot, both becoming “sanctuary campus,” which protects undocumented students.
Due to the change of location, undocumented students did not feel safe to come to the meeting, unable to have a voice or presence.
In an East Bay Times article, Sam Richards wrote that “The educators and students ‘contend moving the district board’s Oct. 24 discussion of that issue from Hayward to Dublin is intended to ‘suppress’ students’ opinions.”
LPC Student Trustee Christopher Romero, who attended the meeting, said that Dublin is a city that rejected sanctuary status, causing the undocumented students to feel vulnerable.
He also explained that the transportation issues, both their ability to get there and the traffic, caused an extra hardship for students who wanted to attend.
Rumors of extra police officers assigned to the district office also stirred up caution and uncertainty.
Sean Prather, LPC Campus Safety Department Supervisor, explained that the district office meeting’s security had already been revamped prior to the last district meeting.
Adding city police officers to further secure the safety of attendees falls in line with all other public meeting protocols.
The intent of the extra security is to assure safety, not to cause panic that there is more danger.
Chabot’s Student Trustee Juliet Garcia, who also attended the meeting, is an immigrant from Mexico and non-voting.
Speaking out during the meeting in tears, she felt that the term sanctuary in its actual definition, though symbolic, is significant. Because she felt safe when she first came to Chabot, she wanted a sanctuary resolution for the campus, to further create a safe place. Chabot has been more vocal about sanctuary status than LPC.
Prior to the last meting an email was sent out from Andrew Pierson, Ph. D. in Psychology at Chabot College.
He said, “There are many concerns, including the BoT’s refusal to discuss Chabot’s sanctuary resolution, misallocation of funds, the BAM, failure to listen to student voices, failure to engage in good faith shared governance regarding faculty prioritization, and other concerns.”
What was offered to faculty and students at the last meeting had the overall feel of trying to appease everyone, since it offered them a resolution of laws that have already been passed.
Specifically, the trustees acknowledged Senate Bill 54, which will, in essence, make California a sanctuary state.
What caused more emotional reaction was using the term sanctuary itself in the resolution. CLPCCD Chancellor Dr. Jannett Jackson told the attendees at that night that she does feel the word sanctuary “fosters a false sense of security.”
The next board meeting for further discussion will be held at LPC on Nov. 14.
Romero anticipates a positive outcome, feeling they are prepared to come to the table with solutions, including a sanctuary resolution from LPC.
He and Garcia want peace and unity between the schools. They are working together to assist in bringing about connection.
Jackson also desires communication between all involved, respecting everyone’s perspective even if everyone does not see eye to eye on all issues.
“I do believe it was critically important and necessary for all voices to be heard,” she said in a district newsletter.
Jackson said she understands that the concerns are complex and interwoven but the end goal is what is best for the students.
“We are pleased to learn of the anticipated LPC resolution from the college’s shared governance bodies related to the sanctuary college discussion,” Jackson said.
Romero has his sight set on peacemaking, as do most who are affected by these issues.
The goal of the upcoming board meeting will be to hear resolutions, but also to make the atmosphere feel more like a sanctuary for those attending.