December 1, 2016

Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,

I hope you, like me, benefited from our brief Thanksgiving recess and have enjoyed your return to classes this week. I am writing today to follow up on my letter of November 18, in which I spoke about the concerns many of us were feeling about potential changes to U.S. immigration policy and to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In that communication, I described the College’s promise to support and protect students who may be affected by such changes. I would like to bring you up-to-date on the steps we have taken and will be taking in line with this commitment.

In the last two weeks, for example, our deans have been meeting with our undocumented and DACA students to hear the range of their concerns and determine what we can do to help.

We have brought an immigration attorney to campus to provide information and advice to our DACA students and to others in order to increase our collective understanding of immigration issues. This kind of legal consultation will be ongoing. I have also established a fund to support our students in the event that one of them should at some point end up facing immigration proceedings.

We have been and will continue to be in communication with other colleges and universities to share information about the developments underway on their campuses to assist their students.

Similarly, we have begun establishing our own protocols to monitor developments in Washington, D.C.; and we will be reaching out to the American Council on Education and other higher education lobbies to keep apprised of developments and opportunities to have input on legislation around this issue.

On November 21, I signed a letter with more than 400 college presidents that expressed our support for the DACA program and our willingness to testify in Washington for its continuation.

I also want to confirm that we will continue to follow our practice of protecting the identity of all of our students. You should know that Connecticut College does not take immigration status into account when evaluating applications for admission, and undocumented students are viewed in the same way as domestic students in determining requests for financial aid.

Finally and most importantly, all our education records, including immigration information, are considered confidential and are never disclosed to outside parties without a subpoena. Even in the case of a subpoena, however, let me reiterate what I stated in my letter of November 18: the College can and will use all available means to defend our undocumented students now and in the future. This includes legal avenues that would allow us to contest such requests for information.

In short, we are committed to making the Connecticut College campus a sanctuary for our undocumented students and for all members of this community.

In my conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees in the past two weeks I have been moved by the level of compassion shown by so many. I have also been moved by the very real fear and anxiety that members of our community have been experiencing. It is clear that none of us knows what lies ahead. But it is important for us, in the face of this uncertainty, to remind ourselves every day of what we stand for as a community, to remain steadfast in our shared values, and to continue to stand up for what is right.

I want to thank everyone for their care and concern for this College.

Katherine Bergeron