Salt Lake City, UT - One month after delivering demands for a sanctuary campus to the University of Utah administration, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) sat in and shut down their office on March 8.
Anthony Scoma of SDS kicked off the rally in front of the main library with chants of “Education not deportation!” and “No ICE, no KKK, no racist USA!” He spoke out against the two-faced inaction of university administrators.
“We have been assured through emails that the U is a protector of its students,” Scoma said, “but just today the university told us in a meeting that while they like the sentiment of our demands, deportations are going to happen and there isn’t anything they can do about it. That is a lie. Over 30 universities across the country have succeeded in making sanctuary campuses.”
During the rally a lone Trump supporter attempted to heckle students, causing people to chant louder. Next he began grabbing at and verbally harassing students. The Trump supporter then violently attacked a protester, punching them in the face. Unbelievably the cops rushed in and detained the pro-immigrant protester who was punched, cuffing them and placing them in a police vehicle. Police cordially escorted the Trump supporter out of the building.
After gathering more students, the protesters marched into the university administrative offices, sat down, and continued chanting. In response, the administrators frantically called campus security and threatened the protesters with arrest. Calling their bluff, SDS remained and began singing the chorus of Which Side Are You On? and naming individual administrators who had failed to take a stand against Trump’s agenda of mass deportation.
The SDS demands include preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations on campus, a public statement that the campus is a sanctuary, hiring an immigration attorney to protect students, and withholding student information on documentation status and religious affiliation.
While supposedly affirming the values expressed in sanctuary status, according to an email, the administration has refused to meet any of the student demands or discuss the criteria for a sanctuary campus, citing Trump’s threats of funding cuts as a major factor in its decisions.
As the sit-in continued, university officials began handing out sheets listing the rules protesters were breaking. Employees eventually left the offices one by one due to the chanting, drumming and singing. After roughly an hour, the offices were almost empty. After two hours, SDS packed up their signs and decapitated a Trump piñata.
SDS is likely to escalate its campaign for a sanctuary campus until administrators meet the students’ demands.