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Prescott College’s Response to SB 1070 and HB 2281

 
Anita Fernandez at Save Ethnic Studies Week,

October 1, 2010

Immigration is one of the most powerful forces shaping the communities, cultures and economy of the Southwest.  Prescott College acknowledges the legitimacy of and need for the security of our nation and the injustice of the current immigration system; thus, we recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  As an institution with a mission to “educate students of diverse ages and backgrounds to understand, thrive in, and enhance our world community and environment,” Prescott College has great concern over recent legislation in Arizona on state enforcement of immigration law and regulation of multicultural education.  

According to a recent court ruling, under SB1070, naturalized citizens, legal immigrants, and citizens born in the US for whom there is “ reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States” would likely be subject to unequal treatment by law enforcement. In a state such as Arizona where residents of Latino origin constitute more than 30% of the population, this legislation has the potential to stigmatize and violate the civil rights of millions of law-abiding citizens and residents.  U.S. history demonstrates that unequal civil rights based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or language correlate directly to unequal political, social and economic power.  Socially just and democratic immigration reform that aligns with American values requires respect for the equal rights and voices of all citizens and impacted communities in important social decision-making.  SB 1070 clearly fails that test and is the wrong strategy for regulating immigration in Arizona.  

Similarly, HB2281 is an inappropriate effort to regulate ethnic studies that may drive elimination of highly effective, culturally relevant and nationally recognized approaches to the teaching of U.S. history, politics and culture from Arizona public school curricula.  As an educational institution committed to preparing all students to live ethically in a globalizing world, we are opposed to any law that restricts multicultural education.  We fundamentally believe that multicultural understanding is a critical foundation for the sustainable and just immigration policies that need to be developed.  Therefore, Prescott College formally endorses the upcoming Ethnic Studies Week during October 4-8.

Prescott College has undertaken a community dialogue on immigration issues in which faculty, staff, students, alumni and board members have expressed their opinions on SB1070 and HB2281.  While a healthy range of opinions was expressed in surveys and focus groups, the large majority opposed these two bills. We are also undertaking educational initiatives to create deeper intercultural understandings both within our students, staff and faculty and throughout the larger community:

  • Spanish language courses have been made available to faculty and staff as an initial step  towards the long term goal of becoming a truly multilingual educational institution;
  • Expanded language learning opportunities have been created for students and community members;
  • Multicultural curricular offerings have been expanded, including a number of courses that focus on the complexities surrounding immigration generally and on specific case studies of SB1070 and HB2281;
  • Public events and open forums are being offered this fall that aim at respectful dialogue and improved understandings on immigration issues.

We encourage everyone to engage in study and dialogue about these important issues and to work together for comprehensive immigration reform.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of Prescott College by the President’s Circle

Kristin Woolever, President
Cathy Boland, Assistant Vice President for Finance
Paul Burkhardt, Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the Adult Degree and Graduate Programs
Steven Corey, Executive Vice President
Jack Herring, Dean of the Resident Degree Program
Tim Robison, Dean of Enrollment Management
Marjory Sente, Interim Director of Development
Laurie Silver, Dean of Student Life

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