February 2, 2017

Higher Education Leadership: Beyond “Sanctuary”

Matthew Hartley is a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. His research focuses on academic governance and the social and democratic purposes of higher education. He is Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at Penn GSE, and is the Executive Director of Penn AHEAD, the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.

After the uncertainty created by Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., leaders at American universities need to be very clear about what they can — and can’t — do to protect their students and faculty, Penn GSE Associate Dean Matthew Hartley explained. 

Even before Trump’s travel ban, questions about “sanctuary campus” status and how to best respond to a potential change in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy were being debated at many universities.

Hartley said there can be value in university leaders declaring their schools “sanctuary campuses,” because the label carries powerful symbolism. But by itself, it’s just a label. Campus communities are served best when leaders are clear about the policies on student privacy and cooperating with immigration officials.

College presidents and administrators shouldn’t shy away from the debate around Trump’s travel ban or immigration, Hartley argues.

“Part of what needs to be argued in the public square by these academic leaders is the fact that we want to have these promising young people at our institutions of higher learning, to have the opportunity to get these degrees, so that they can continue to be contributing members of our country,” Hartley said.

Read Hartley's op-ed in University World News.