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Letter to UNT and President Smatresk: The state of our protests

Letter to UNT and President Smatresk: The state of our protests

12/01/2016 Denton, Texas Students chant at the gathering in UNT's library mall. Students got together to petition their officials to declare UNT and TWU sanctuary campuses. Jennyfer Rodriguez

Letter to UNT and President Smatresk: The state of our protests
January 18
13:36 2017

The UNT Sanctuary Taskforce | Contributing Writers

Dear UNT public,

We, the collective UNT Sanctuary Taskforce, have received and reviewed the administrative announcement UNT President Neal Smatresk sent in response to the walkout we held on Dec. 1, 2016.

Although we appreciate President Smatresk’s consideration of the anxiety many are feeling, as well as the demands we raised in our petition, we believe that the administrative announcement did little to substantively engage the issues and lived realities impacting student safety and campus diversity.

We would like to remind the public that this collective task force is a group of student leaders familiar with the campus resources available to us, and in many cases with our very own experiences making use of those resources.

With the wealth of our combined experiences as immigrant students, students of color, students with undocumented parents and siblings and as students whose faith, race, ability, gender and sexual orientation put us at risk for many forms of trauma, we believe that the resources UNT does provide are not tailored to handle the crises many of us are facing. These issues include family separation and the fear of it.

For example, during the Unity Town Hall meeting in November, UNT staff and faculty mentioned that students who are undocumented could speak with a free legal adviser provided by UNT.

But in actuality, these services are often not free or cheap to those in need of them. Many students have tried to make use of free legal advice, only to be referred to an outside lawyer. A free consultation is not the same as a free referral.

Also, the administrative announcement that followed the campus walkout presents UNT as an inclusive and diverse place for the past 125 years. However, the University of North Texas has not always been an inclusive and welcoming place for all people.

Let us not forget the long-held practices of segregation and other forms of discrimination that encompass most of the history of this institution. Just as there was room for improvement then, there are improvements that can be made today to make the university more inclusive and welcoming.

It is a shame that the president of our university has sat idle in the face of a threat to our communities from President-elect Trump, rather than informing himself of preemptive measures the university can take to ensure the safety and well-being of its students.

We find such a gesture representative of (perhaps) an unintentional strategy of glossing over the lived realities we have experienced as immigrants and students of color, both historically and presently. We, and our ancestors, have only ever made institutions better when we have fought to do so.

Finally, as if it was not already made clear, the new president-elect’s soon-to-be policies could have a massively detrimental impact to a plethora of UNT students.

President Smatresk claims “[that this] university is first and foremost a community that cares about its students, and [he] will do everything in [his] power to preserve UNT’s supportive environment,” yet it is the same institution that has decided to wait “…to hold a town hall [meeting] in January so [the] students can ask questions and engage directly with [the president] and others.”

We are glad that you are “listening to the concerns raised and hear the anxieties of those speaking out,” but as Abraham Lincoln, a president who strove for justice and equality, said, “actions speak louder than words.”

Therefore, listening is meaningless if no action is done to meet those concerns. Waiting until late January to even decide what to do is a waste of time and money for both sides, including students and UNT administration.

We invite members of the UNT community to take a stand against bigotry by joining us at 12 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at the UNT Library Mall for a protest against President-elect Trump’s inauguration.

In solidarity,
the Sanctuary UNT Taskforce.

Featured Image: Students chant at the gathering in UNT’s library mall. Students got together to petition their officials to declare UNT and Texas Woman’s University’s sanctuary campuses. Jennyfer Rodriguez

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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1 Comment

  1. The Misfit
    The Misfit January 26, 01:45

    For those who do care about this issue and are willing to take time to read this article I have made up a short parable to describe my feelings on this issue:

    There once was a hotel located near a rough part of the city that in spite of it’s location was a very luxurious place to live made specifically for the people by the people who would live there, and the people living there were well off. Down at the rough part of the city however there was a huge population of cats with a had a long and miserable history of starvation, suffering along with fear and suppression from the bad cats among them.

    Eventually the oppress felines had heard that the nearby hotel dose take in any resident from anywhere and that the current manager Irock Insane Oldmamas along with his staff and friends believe that all residents should go in and out of the hotel whenever they feel like it, free of any charge or process; so that way the hotel can be a “sanctuary for all residents” as they all called it. So naturally all the good cats came in and dwelled peacefully within the hotel, and overtime felt like they were part of the hotel in spite who they were and where they came from. And with that mind set they were grateful and obligated enough to their sanctuary they used there naturally extraordinary skilled intellect and overall handiness to try to fill in the unemployment gap within the hotel and to care for the other residents and solve any problems the hotel faced.

    However since the hotel’s luxuries were so well known the bad cats decided to come in as well. Manager Oldmamas, staff, and friends all let them in thinking that just because they were cute and cuddly cats that they were no different from the other cats that came in regardless of how much damage they made and how many other animals they bullied and killed within the hotel (including some of the other cats) in order to have all the cash, catnip, cash from catnip they kill to resale at a cheaper price, and sex they can possibly bring in to the hotel as they possibly can.

    Eventually Oldmamas’s time as manager came to an end and the hotel had to vote for a new manager and a lot of residents wanted one of Oldmamas’s staff members Serially Killton to become the next manager, because they liked what Oldmama did with the hotel and also simply because Killton was a woman and they never had a woman manager before (and soon they planned on having a Equestrian Pony as manager, then a piece of aged cheese as manager, then a used light bulb as manager, then a bobble-head for manager, all because none of them were managers before and promoting those liberties are more important than actual credibility). But slightly more than that same amount of residents hated how Oldmama ran the hotel and were aware of Killton’s reputation for being evil and dishonest, and wanted Dumbold Dump to be manager, because he was an “outsider of the staffing system” (and that too was apparently more important than actual credibility) and he said that he’ll fix all the problems that the bad cats were causing. Since Dump supporters made up the majority of residents voting, Dump became the hotel’s new manager. The thing was is that Dump was just as crazy and stubborn as Killton was evil and dishonest, and he believed that all the cats in the hotel were bad unlike Oldmama who thought all the cats were good, and wanted to kick them all out and force them to build fence around the hotel to keep them out.

    But before anything could get done there is a conflict going on within one room of this hotel from which those who think all the cats are good (and who are also being sore losers about the election) are desperately pleading for every cat to stay through the sanctuary system, the head of this room wants to see what he can do about it with Dump being crazy, stubborn, and now also having a lot of control in this situation, but doesn’t know what or at what extent.

    Me personally I would just do the simple and sane solution by fighting for Dump to only get rid of the bad cats in the hotel and allowing the good cats to stay to fully become residents of the hotel, even if it clearly means it costing the sanctuary system all of the other residents who like cats are fighting for. And I’m sure everyone who likes cats would hate me for this, because cats would be leaving the hotel and the hotel would go back having fees and procedures to being full residents. While those who hate cats like Dump would hate me for this as well for not wanting to get rid of enough more cats in the hotel. But that is what makes me The Misfit of this hotel, I have both have enough conscience and common sense that makes me different from everyone else, and most likely everyone else won’t understand and would ignore everything I have to say. Which is why I’m speaking my mind out about this issue, but only on this website.

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