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More than 2,000 sign petition to protect undocumented students at UNC

The day before the email was sent, 63 faculty and students met to discuss ways to protect undocumented students. The result of the meeting was a petition calling for the protection of undocumented students that has been signed by over 2,000 people.

“Ideally, I would like the University to be a safe place for undocumented students, for minorities of all types, for LGBTQ, for Muslims, for all those that are feeling vulnerable, fragile and scared,” Julia Mack, a Spanish professor, said.

The petition asks that UNC reaffirm its non-discrimination policy, protect undocumented students’ privacy, refuse to comply with agencies deporting students, train people to be more inclusive of undocumented students and declare UNC a sanctuary university.

Mack said the results of the election put her in a position she had never been in before — she felt the need to address politics in her classes.

“The distress, the anguish, the lack of energy, the difficulty in simply communicating — people who started talking and couldn’t finish a sentence before starting to cry, students who wanted to go home to protect their families — it was intolerable, you couldn’t, it was not business as usual,” Mack said.

Alejandra Marquez, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the department of romance studies who signed the petition, said while she thinks the email was a great start for opening up important conversations, she believes the University should do more to address the issues facing undocumented students specifically.

“The priority is making undocumented students feel safe and cared for,” Marquez said.

Joshua Wassink, a first-year Ph.D candidate in sociology, said he hopes the petition will influence decision makers in the community and contribute to an ongoing discussion of the issue.

“It doesn’t affect me in an immediate sense, but it does affect me as an American as far as how America chooses to treat immigrants and how we interact with other countries,” Wassink said.

Julie Byerley, vice dean of education and chief education officer for the UNC School of Medicine, said she feels the University has a responsibility to address the community’s concerns.

“Unfortunately, we are not going to have a quick fix to this situation. This situation of tension and unrest is one we’re going to need to struggle with as individuals and collectively as a community and work together to listen and hear each other.”

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