District campuses earn sanctuary status after Governing Board referendum

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

PLEASANT HILL — The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) Governing Board voted unanimously during a special meeting here on Tuesday to grant sanctuary status to protect Contra Costa, Los Medanos and Diablo Valley college students and employees of marginalized groups and communities.

The special meeting, held at DVC’s Performing Arts Center, was the result of a high turnout of sanctuary supporters during the previous board meeting on Dec. 14, 2016 in Martinez.

“What we saw last month was fear,” Trustee Timothy J. Farley said to those attending the meeting. “And what I want this community to know is that as long as I am on the community college board and I have anything to do, I will do anything in my power to protect our students from fear. That is why I will support the ordinance before us tonight. We cannot tolerate fear. Not from a foreign government and certainly not from our own.”

President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises to deport undocumented people and roll back strides made to protect the LGBTQ community brought fear and demands of action from the CCCCD constituencies.

The resolution states in part, “Be it further resolved, the Contra Costa Community College District will not cooperate with any effort, federal or otherwise, to create a registry of individuals based on any legally protected characteristic, such as religion, national origin, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

CCC HSI STEM Manager Mayra Padilla said, “The spirit of sanctuary is to make students and employees who are threatened as included and safe as possible at a time of real danger.”

Padilla was part of the committee created over winter break to draft the resolution, submit it to the board for review by legal counsel and review the revised resolution presented during the special meeting to the board and crowd of about 60 community members and students Tuesday.

At the meeting, CCC student Marisol Contreras said, “Implementing the (sanctuary) resolution would stand against oppression, discrimination and deportation, and with the diverse community that we live in. We stand together and ask for your support with this action here today.

“I’m asking for support, protection and resistance for people in need,” she said.

The resolution also states that the mission of CCCCD is to “transform lives by providing outstanding learning opportunities, nurturing and empowering all students to achieve educational goals.”

CCC President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said each of the three district colleges has been engaging in post-election student services activities offering additional counseling for students to ensure they have enough support in the college setting, legal advice clinics for immigrant families from One Justice, a non-profit organization offering legal help, and other forms of support for students.

Padilla told those assembled on Tuesday the goal in bringing forth the resolution is to “reaffirm” the spirit of sanctuary within the district and to make students and employees who are threatened by the incoming Trump administration feel as included as possible.

The committee was made up of faculty and staff from all three colleges, Mehdizadeh, DVC Interim President Tom Wieden, LMC President Bob Kratochvil, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Huff and Special Assistant City Attorney Gabriel Sandoval.

Mehdizadeh said it is a resolution in defense of civil rights, inclusion and diversity in the CCCCD. “We really see it as that,” she said.

District Trustee John Marquez said the resolution is “well thought out” and covers the important points that the board is trying to achieve for its district.

As part of the resolution, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento also will not cooperate with any federal effort to create a registry of individuals based on any protected characteristics, such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation.

The movement to bestow sanctuary status at the district’s colleges began in November, after the election, when a group of students, faculty and staff at CCC drafted and circulated a petition on campus asking that the district take such action.

That petition was presented to the Governing Board at its December meeting and led to the formation of the district-wide sanctuary committee and to the resolution presented to the board Tuesday.

Trustee Gary Walker-Roberts said one thing the resolution promotes is an atmosphere of respect.

“It goes through the most vulnerable groups — minority groups that are facing uncertain times.”

He said he stands for the resolution, which members of impacted groups asked to be passed before Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration.

“I think (the resolution) will send a very loud voice to our community and to all of our students on campus and employees,” he said.

“I do feel vulnerable as an LGBT person and hearing all of your stories at the last board meeting. And I do feel that there is no need to prolong this resolution,” Roberts-Walker said.

Board President Vicki Gordon opened the vote to the board for the resolution around 7:30 p.m.

“The time is now to take action,” she said.

The board voted and the resolution passed, unanimously.

Walker-Roberts said he hopes the conversation between the sanctuary committee and students continues.

“We are all in it together,” he said.
Below is the link to CCCCD resolution file:

Resolution NO 1-S 01-11-2017