Northern Arizona University professors stand with the Flagstaff City Council's opposition to Arizona's recently passed illegal immigration crackdown law.
The NAU Faculty Senate supported a resolution Tuesday that echoes the Council's opposition and "racist" characterization, and supports the city's exploration of filing an injunction against the law.
Many professors wanted strong wording, some to the point of advocating civil disobedience.
The statement does not alter state law or university policy, but it does share a collective opinion, which passed 39 votes to 5, with one abstention. One person noted that the law has been amended to say that police may not use race, ethnicity or national origin as a factor when deciding who to question about their immigration status.
Still, the professors moved forward with their criticism.
Social work professor David McKell drafted and edited a statement longhand on the back of a meeting agenda. By the end of the discussion and vote, his statement read:
"We, the Faculty Senate at NAU, condemn in no uncertain terms the actions of the Arizona State Legislature and the Governor to enact the laws that marginalize, criminalize and profile any segment of our community in the name of controlling our borders. We also go on record supporting the Flagstaff City Council in seeking legal action to overturn this racist law."
English professor Nancy Barron said Mexicans have seen discrimination before. Now, she said, there's a realization among her Anglo students that the law is "embarrassing." She urged her colleagues not just to disagree with the law but say that it is wrong.
Miguel Vasquez, an anthropology professor and chair of the Coconino County Hispanic Advisory Council, said the issue goes beyond more than just one bill recently signed into law -- "this is about a whole train of thought."
"There's a saying -- and I know that you've all heard it and I fear that it applies here -- and that is that, 'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good people to do nothing,'" he said. "And I know that all of you are good people. I think it's time for us as a faculty to say, 'No, we're not gonna stand for this.'"
Rom Coles praised the City Council's stance as "bold" and "courageous."
As the holder of an endowed chair in Community, Culture and Environment, he said some of his programs deal with people who are likely undocumented immigrants.
"This is a profound infringement on our right to association in ways that really strike at the heart of the pedagogical mission," he said. "We were weatherizing a house in Sunnyside. I can guarantee some of the folks who came to that retrofit probably didn't have papers -- we do not ask that question."
University President John Haeger issued a campuswide letter saying NAU "will comply with all state laws while maintaining a safe, secure and welcoming campus." He said he sympathizes with anxiety but that campus police will be properly trained, and he encouraged anybody who feels racially profiled to contact the Office of Student Life, the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, or the Center for International Education.
"Northern Arizona University prides itself on its open, friendly and welcoming learning environment. This new enforcement authority will not affect this positive learning environment and community atmosphere," he wrote. "Our students, faculty and staff are legal residents of this state or otherwise in this country lawfully."
Luis Fernandez, a criminology professor, was appointed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano to a commission to review traffic stops by state police for racial profiling.
He was not convinced that minorities or Hispanics in particular should have no reason to fear.
"I've come to the conclusion that there is no way to implement this particular law in such a way that it actually allows for safety in any way for people of color, people with last names like Fernandez," he said.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2261.
President's message to campus on SB1070
Many individuals have shared with me their strong opinions on the recently enacted legislation on immigration enforcement (SB1070).The new law directs police to ask for evidence of legal status from any individuals police "reasonably suspect" of being in the country illegally. Many individuals have expressed serious trepidation regarding the prospect of racial profiling.
Northern Arizona University prides itself on its open, friendly and welcoming learning environment. This new enforcement authority will not affect this positive learning environment and community atmosphere. Our students, faculty and staff are legal residents of this state or otherwise in this country lawfully.
I understand and sympathize with the anxiety that is spreading across the state with regard to the implementation of this law and support the mandatory law enforcement training required under Governor Brewer's recent Executive Order.
The Northern Arizona University Police Department is a fully accredited agency, with the same responsibilities and authority as any municipal, county or state law enforcement department. Department personnel will be required to go through the same rigorous training that other law enforcement agencies go through. Additionally, we have unique resources to depend on as policies are developed, and I have been assured by our police chief that his department will participate in any educational process for our community members who have questions or concerns about the new law.
I remind all of the campus community that racial profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated. Any members of the NAU community who feel the implementation of this law has not been appropriately carried out should contact the Office of Student Life at (928) 523-5181, email@example.com, or the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity at (928) 523-3312, firstname.lastname@example.org. International students may contact the Center for International Education at (928) 523-2409, email@example.com.
I want to assure our faculty, staff, students, families and friends that Northern Arizona University will comply with all state laws while maintaining a safe, secure and welcoming campus.
John D. Haeger