December 20, 2016
During the last several weeks, many members of the PCC community have expressed concern about the impact of potential changes in federal immigration policy for the college's undocumented and documented immigrant students – and about potential changes in federal laws and policies that protect individuals from discrimination and harassment.
While it is difficult to predict future federal policy changes or effects, it will always be imperative that every member of our PCC community feels safe and welcomed. It is also critical that we take this moment to affirm a fundamental obligation to support all students and safeguard their privacy rights.
At the heart of Portland Community College is a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. These values are essential to the college's mission, to our accreditation themes, to the Board's goals and objectives, and to the college's strategic plan. Indeed, one key intention within PCC's strategic plan is to "create a nationally renowned culture for diversity, equity and inclusion."
In keeping with these values, today the Portland Community College Board of Directors moved to apply the term "sanctuary college" to PCC. Here is what that means:
- PCC will continue to uphold our legal obligation to protect the privacy rights of all students by observing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). We will not release non-directory student information unless legally compelled to do so, and will continue to offer FERPA workshops to students to increase awareness of their rights under this law.
- PCC public safety officers do not and will not enforce federal immigration laws as they do not have the legal authority to do so. Instead, they will remain committed to working to make PCC safe for all.
- PCC will continue to engage the federal delegation representing the Portland region and Oregon state as well as federal and state agencies around these key issues.
- PCC will continue to provide in-state tuition rates to all students who otherwise satisfy PCC's residency guidelines.
- The PCC Foundation will continue to help ensure that students in our region have access to an outstanding education at PCC regardless of their ability to pay. Foundation staff will work with donors interested in providing philanthropic support for the PCC DREAMers Scholarship for first generation, low-income students who are ineligible to apply for federal financial aid.
- PCC will work with appropriate community partners to foster access to support services for undocumented immigrant students. We will continue to sponsor events, workshops and listening sessions to connect students to the resources and information they need. We will also research the feasibility of establishing resource centers, offices or sites for undocumented students.
- PCC will redirect resources to the Office of Equity and Inclusion to increase its capacity to expand diversity, equity and inclusion training programs for PCC employees and students. Departments, councils and student groups will also continue to offer a variety of learning opportunities.
- PCC will continue to build the college's capacity for respectful and challenging dialogue across differences.
While it is important and responsible to acknowledge that the term "sanctuary college" has no legal status and does not confer legal protection to students or their families, it none-the-less offers a powerful statement of support to some of our most vulnerable students and their families at this time of uncertainty.
PCC strives to be a catalyst for change and hope for our entire student body – a place that values dialogue, civic engagement and learning. By taking the steps outlined above and by enhancing pathways for equitable success across the college, we hope to help all students meet their full potential.
This is the promise of educational access and opportunity that defines Portland Community College – now and always.
President, Portland Community College