Baylor officials rejected a petition authored by a handful of graduate students who pushed the private university’s Christian values as progressive grounds for adopting “sanctuary campus” policies.
Interim President David Garland said taking such an action would not be in the university’s best interests.
This week, he issued a written statement to students, faculty, and staff, acknowledging the administration was aware of the “sanctuary campus” petition that called for Baylor to “refuse to comply with immigration investigations or deportations to the fullest extent possible, including denying access to university property.”
The online petition garnered more than 1,300 signatures and was in response to President Trump’s recent temporary travel-ban executive order for seven terror-prone countries, Breitbart Texas reported. Signers demanded that Baylor publicly embrace “refugees, migrants, and religious and racial/ethnic minorities,” and lead the advocacy charge among Christian universities to “defend the dignity and rights of non-citizens” through upholding the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by former President Obama.
“While we appreciate the heart of those who have signed the petition, I believe we can continue to support and care for our students, faculty, staff and scholars without creating a designation, such as a ‘sanctuary campus,’ which has no specific meaning beyond what one assigns to it,” wrote Garland in the email obtained by Breitbart Texas.
He cited the Baptist university’s “Christian commitment within a caring faith-based community” that offers “unwavering support” to its more than 800 students, faculty, and staff that hail from 70-plus countries. Garland commented that while the executive order continues to work its way through the legal system, the petition’s many concerns are issues for which Baylor already has “policies and practices in place that are rigorously followed.”
The Baylor president underscored it was not in the university’s best interests “nor in keeping with our legal covenants – to declare Baylor a ‘sanctuary campus’ without the proper authorization or legal authority.”
He explained: “Baylor is bound by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the privacy of student education records; therefore, we have not and will not release information regarding a student’s immigration status to any enforcement agency without proper authorization or legal authority.”
According to the U.S. Education Department, FERPA applies to publicly funded education agencies and institutions. Elementary and secondary level parochial and private schools that do not obtain public funds are not subject to FERPA. However, private postsecondary schools that receive federal funds under any “applicable” programs are subject to the federal law.
Baylor is one such private higher education institution obligated to FERPA regulations for this reason. The university’s website explains that FERPA’s intent is to protect the privacy of student educational records. Once students reach 18-years-old or attend a school beyond the high school level, privacy rights transfer from parents to students.
Federal law is not the only tie that binds Baylor. Garland stated: “Just as we are bound by FERPA to protect our students’ private information, as a non-profit institution of higher education chartered by the State of Texas we also are bound to uphold all other federal and state laws.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has steadfastly vowed to cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.
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