North Texas Daily

Sanctuary campuses and Neal Smatresk’s fear of the Governor

Sanctuary campuses and Neal Smatresk’s fear of the Governor

Sanctuary campuses and Neal Smatresk’s fear of the Governor
December 09
13:40 2016

The Editorial Board

A week ago, nearly 200 UNT students put down their pencils to join students from Texas Woman’s University in a protest around our campus and the Denton Square. Their call, specified in this petition, was for this university to defend its students. UNT President Neal Smatresk, however, showed little interest in the lives and futures of undocumented students.

More than 1,000 students signed the petition. Hundreds of students at other Texas universities, including Texas State in San Marcos, called for their schools to become sanctuaries. Doing so would install a legal environment in which the school provides legal representation for undocumented students against the federal government’s wishes.

In the spirit of contemporary politics, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott simply tweeted.

And the state’s public schools stopped listening to these students’ calls.

UNT, the corporation, is more important to Smatresk than UNT, the student body. It’s nice that he posts fun-loving tweets to students, saying “Welcome to the UNT family!” It’s great that Smatresk will snag playful selfies at campus events. But it’s unacceptable how he has turned his back in the face of adversity.

When will Smatresk end his career in entertainment and be a true leader? When will he take a stand and mold this university into an institution Texas needs?

This is not a critique of the Republican mission to deport undocumented immigrants. This is not a hot take on the immigration debate. This is a call for our institutions to find a more noble purpose than fueling the workforce.

At a time when President-elect Donald Trump can send out tweets that rattle markets, our leaders must not make decisions without thoughtful discourse. A threatening tweet is not discussion. Somewhere along the way, public universities became arms of state governments, and this enables politicians to tighten their grips on citizens who do not align with their ideologies.

Smatresk is a loyal servant, not an advocate for student rights.

The real issue boils down to the facade our universities have created: that these campuses are diverse havens for people of all backgrounds, confirmed or unconfirmed by the U.S. government.

How can we call college a place of diversity when all of our state’s institutions march in lockstep, only rarely defying the rules? We are allowing politics to dictate the destinies of our current and future students.

Another issue is that Abbott delivered an empty threat last week with his tweet. University officials everywhere are unclear on exactly how much money a university would lose if it became a sanctuary.

How much money, Abbott? There is no word from the governor, only his rhetoric. Basically, he flexed on us and our leader flinched. Smatresk gave us no reason to take pride in UNT. It is only a university like every other in Texas, bound to the Mighty Governor and his Legislature. The only variables are cheap talk, marketing messages and school colors.

On the back of UNT’s monument next to IHOP, on North Texas Blvd., there is a quote that embodies higher education’s old mission: “Only the educated are free,” credited to Epictetus.

So Smatresk, who do you want to liberate at UNT? Just the ones who won’t cause your front offices financial or political grief?

Instead of helping the people who need it — in this case, people who the federal government wants to deport — Smatresk chose to be complacent. We hope Smatresk enjoys his recent pay raise while his students scatter to find help should the Trump administration banish them. What a privilege it must be to say you care and project a friendly persona, but actually do nothing once the pressure is on.

To all of those who are protesting at UNT, TWU and around Texas: you aren’t protesting hard enough. Walking out of class means nothing if only 200 out of 37,000-plus do it, considering there are many others out of class at any given time.

Instead of hollering in Library Mall for a couple hours, camp out and live in Library Mall for weeks. There need to be more risks taken, to show those in charge that you’re serious. Get on the floor and pretend to be dead. Make them step over you.

As a contingency, you could show up to Smatresk’s front door and tell him what you think. Chant throughout the night and don’t let him sleep on you. Make sure he hears you, so the next time he’s bowing down to Abbott, your passion inspires him to stand up for us.

Smatresk turned away from us because he had no incentive to listen. Start skipping classes. Don’t buy UNT’s food or merchandise. Park off campus. Don’t buy your books from Barnes and Noble. Start talking dollars, and Smatresk will start listening.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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  1. JD
    JD December 09, 22:34

    Should UNT be a sanctuary for all lawbreakers? Where do we draw the line? A crime is a crime, so why should we allow some they break the law and not allow others? See the predicament thks creates?

    Believe it or not, UNT and President Smatresk’s roll is to prepare you for the workforce. Yes, UNT is a diverse campus, as it was when I attended, and I love that about UNT, but why should we harbor people that entered our country illegally and live here illegally? Why should they receive these benefits and possibly take the place of those that are utilizing the immigration system legally and as intended?

    Reply to this comment
    • K.Gro
      K.Gro December 10, 22:04

      There are those that will argue it is not the fault of the illegal students. They usually argue that it is the parents of those students or the government’s fault as to why they are not documented. The sad thing is none of this would be going in if the schools denied them in the first place, as they should have. In the schools eyes, it is all about the dollar. Abbott is right in saying if a school decides to provide sanctuary he will cut their funding. It is the schools mess to deal with since they are the ones who admitted the illegal students to begin with. Bottom line is no matter what the reason, it is up to the illegal immigrants to go through the correct process to enter this country. Every country on this planet requires legal documentation to enter. Why should the United States of America change its policy to allow those who came here illegally to continue to break the law?

      Reply to this comment
    • Lakiesha
      Lakiesha May 22, 00:12

      I don’t even know what to say, this made things so much eairse!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Eric
    Eric December 10, 14:25

    an editorial from the far left

    Reply to this comment
  3. Mikki
    Mikki December 11, 21:24

    Skip classes? I already paid for them…
    Park off campus? Already paid for the parking pass….
    Stop eating food? Already paid for the meal plan….

    Must be nice to be able to waste mommy and daddy’s money.

    Reply to this comment

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