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SDS protest demands sanctuary campus at University of Utah

By Anthony Scoma |
February 20, 2017
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Salt Lake City, UT - The University of Utah (U of U) chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) staged a rally in the crowded student union cafeteria to demand a sanctuary campus. After several speeches, 20 students marched to the top administrators’ offices and taped copies of their formal ultimatum to the office doors.

The protest was part of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) National Day of Action on Feb. 15 and is demanding greater protections for Muslim and undocumented students at the U of U. The students are responding to the threat that the Trump presidency poses to these vulnerable groups.

Students are demanding university administrators refuse to work with ICE operations on campus, hire a designated immigration lawyer, withhold student information requested by federal authorities, and make a public declaration that the university is a sanctuary campus. The ultimatum promises that if the university does not act by March 8 “immediate action” will be taken. It is not known what the “immediate action” will be.

This is the second protest rally for a sanctuary campus by students at the U. of U. SDS also presented a petition that 600 students signed. SDS is still waiting for campus administrators to respond directly.

Administrators and campus institutions did send emails to students following some of Trump’s executive orders. These emails express support for undocumented students, but do not respond to the demands of SDS, in particular making University of Utah a sanctuary campus.

“We are here today to demand a sanctuary campus from University of Utah administration. We are demanding this because we understand that we need to start taking action here at home to fight against Trump,” said Theresa Nielson at the rally.

Union Building staff and student government members interrupted Nielson’s speech by tugging on her arm, and then attempted to interrupt the speeches of SDS members Lucia Miramontes and Ian Decker. University staffers wanted the protest shut down, claiming a reservation had not been made and was disrupting a conference upstairs.

Trampling the students’ free speech, staffers threatened to contact the police. After students ended the rally and marched away, police were present at the office of the president of the university and watched while students chanted and posted the ultimatum to the doors.

SDS members at the University of Utah continue to gather support for the sanctuary campus by reaching out to professors and students to voice their support for Muslims and undocumented immigrants.