“ETSU affirms the contributions of diverse people, cultures, and thought to intellectual, social, and economic development,” the ETSU Mission Statement reads.
Student Government Association President Keyana Miller began working on the first piece of legislation for the school year on Sept. 5 following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“That’s instantly when I thought that I wanted to do something about it for SGA,” Miller said. “Then right afterward, Dr. Noland sent out something to the entire student body saying that we, as a university, support them, and I had already written the legislation.”
Noland released a statement to the ETSU community on Sept. 7 acknowledging “uncertainty” for students and showing support for DACA students.
DACA protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and allows them to enroll at colleges and universities, obtain a driver’s license and legally work.
The ETSU SGA legislation was presented to members on Sept. 12 and outlines that the university and student government shows support to undocumented students and those who have been recipients of DACA.
There are four sections of the legislation:
Section 1. Student Government stands in support of undocumented students, DACA, and other programs that help to promote higher education for students of all backgrounds.
Section 2. East Tennessee State University further supports undocumented students and DACA recipients that pursue an education at East Tennessee State University.
Section 3. East Tennessee State University exemplifies its vision statement by helping to improve the quality of life in the region for all students by putting people first and promoting diversity in people and ideas.
Section 4. This resolution will go into effect upon passage, the welfare of the student body requiring it.
“I just hope it shows the students support, particularly any undocumented … or DACA students that we have,” Miller said. “Specifically, I want them to know that we, as a SGA, support them, and we, as representatives of the student body, understand that … public, higher education is something that everyone deserves to have, and ETSU upholds that.”
The legislation will be a resolution and not an action, meaning it is a statement of support, according to SGA Senator and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Nicholas Fasanello.
“If you’re considering if it’s appropriate to stand behind [DACA] as student government or as a student at ETSU, just look at the mission statement of the university,” Fasanello said. “It’s explicitly in there that we are here to protect and promote diversity of thought, diversity of people, diversity of intellectuality.”
Miller hopes students who have not been impacted by Trump’s decision or have not understood the significance of the order will feel compassion for their fellow students.
“When this isn’t something that particularly pertains to you, sometimes you don’t think about it,” she said. “But you might not know that the person sitting next to you could be directly affected. This could hinder their education or halt their education completely … We’re here for an education, and everyone deserves that.”
Miller also hopes the legislation will allow open dialogue between students and SGA about any fears they may have regarding DACA. Students are invited to attend the Sept. 19 SGA meeting to discuss the proposed legislation. All meetings are open to the public and take place every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Forum on the 3rd floor of the D.P. Culp University Center.
“This is something that reflects the ideas of the student body, so … I’d really like to hear their concerns or their comments,” Miller said.