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Our Commitment to UC Merced DREAMers

February 8, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

The support of so many members of our campus community for the plight of students who have been—or may be—affected by changes in immigration policy is truly heartening. We are a campus that values our diversity and expresses this value in its care for others.

I want to address controversy generated by the recent New York Times story about some of our undocumented students. These students were interviewed in November, shortly after the election, as part of a larger look at undocumented students and our Fiat Lux Scholars program. These brave students agreed to be interviewed, signed releases for photographs, and agreed to have their names used.

The stories of these students are amazing — they are courageous, enormously talented, and truly have the potential to continue to make positive contributions to their communities, state and nation.

But the results of the November election created a more ominous context for undocumented students, and the article — produced and published by the New York Times earlier this month — focused almost exclusively on their stories. Unfortunately, personal details were also revealed in the story that were not appropriate, particularly in the current political environment.

We have been in communication with the New York Times since the article’s release. Within that organization, there was disagreement about the propriety of releasing sensitive information. However, yesterday, the newspaper published an opinion by its public editor entitled, “ When Details in a Story Can Put People at Risk .” In it, the editor states that sensitive information regarding the students’ residences should not have been included in the story, and the author of the story states that she now regrets including that information. Sadly, they refuse to remove the private information from the online article, despite our multiple requests for this outcome.

Student affairs staff members have engaged in a number of conversations with the involved students. We have identified “safe space” housing for the students if they choose to use it. The safety of our students is paramount and security measures have been undertaken. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

There has been an unfair inference to at least one member of our faculty who has been maligned for her purported role in this incident. In fact, the interviews had no connections whatsoever to the research conducted by the faculty member.

These are difficult times for many, and I will continue to affirm in word and action our commitment to students, wherever they may come from and the circumstance that brought them here. We cannot control the media, but we can control our response to students and others who need our support. Particularly for undocumented and Muslim students, faculty and staff, and others in our campus community who feel uneasy during this period of uncertainty, our support is more important now than ever.

We must all reaffirm our commitment to the UC Principles in Support of Undocumented Members of the UC Community and do everything within our power to continue to respond to the needs of our students, faculty and staff.


Dorothy Leland

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