Decision Maker Response

President Dennis Assanis’s response

President Dennis Assanis
President of the University of Delaware

May 8, 2017 — Dear UD Community,

Thank you for submitting your petition regarding protections for undocumented and DACA students at the University of Delaware. I appreciate and share your concerns for our undocumented and DACA students. We take the needs of all students seriously, especially those who are in vulnerable situations. The University will protect DACA students to the full extent of the law. UD staff and administrators are committed to meeting our students’ needs, and we continually look for ways to improve our efforts. There are no quick or easy solutions, but we are committed to ongoing dialogue with students as the most productive path forward.

Your petition raises important topics, and I am grateful for the opportunity to address them. Let me begin by restating the University’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. UD welcomes all who are here to learn, teach, discover and serve. Our diversity strengthens us and defines us as a community of scholars and global citizens. Whatever our language or culture, we are united by our abiding commitment to scholarship and our love of learning. We are committed to cultivating an environment of inclusive excellence through our programs, curriculum and institutional culture. Every one of us — student, faculty, staff or visitor — holds the power to make UD a more welcoming and respectful community.

To live out this commitment, the University continues to support the ongoing growth and development of diversity initiatives within the Division of Student Life, the Office of Equity & Inclusion, the seven colleges and the work of the Vice Provost for Diversity. A new and developing initiative, through the Division of Student Life and the Office of the Dean of Students, is a resource guide for undocumented and DACA students that will be made available online this summer.

University services are available to students regardless of immigration or citizenship status. These include admissions decisions, financial aid, the protection and security provided by the UD Police Department, new student orientation, internships and research programs. Two specific resources that may be of assistance to individual undocumented or DACA students are the Center for Counseling and Student Development and the Office of the Dean of Students. Either office can help students connect to resources such as emergency housing, legal advice, health care or financial assistance.

Ongoing engagement and education in diversity, inclusion and cultural competency are essential to fostering an environment of student success here at UD, especially in understanding the experiences of undocumented and DACA students. In June, for example, the Office of Equity & Inclusion is offering “Diversity Summit: Realizing Social Justice for a Better UD,” a full-day professional development event aimed at UD employees who wish to develop leadership skills, work more effectively with their colleagues, and share in conversations about social justice, equity and inclusion. We are committed to providing more such opportunities to educate the entire UD community about undocumented students, DACA and other topics.

As for student privacy, the University abides by the federal Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) in relation to sharing student records and information with those outside of the university community. Individuals or organizations must provide a court-ordered subpoena for information. The University will provide directory information for specific students if requested and the student has not opted out.

Finally, let me assure you that this topic remains an ongoing concern for me, my administrative team and the entire University. We will continue to express our concerns with Delaware’s delegation to Congress. We are looking ahead to the launch of additional resources for undocumented and DACA students, and I hope you will continue to be engaged with us in this process.

Sincerely,

Dennis Assanis
President