A message to the university community

December 23, 2016

Penn State’s mission is education. We admit students based on their academic achievement and academic promise. Recently, Penn State President Eric Barron joined more than 570 university leaders across the country in signing a letter in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which affirms these criteria and directly addresses our mission to educate all qualified students who graduate from our high schools. Every student on this campus has earned the right to be here based on their academic qualifications and hard work.

Once admitted to Penn State, our commitment to every student is, “All In.” This means we are dedicated to building a safe, supportive and welcoming learning community that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion for everyone. It means we promote broad acceptance of our differences and encourage all members of our community to be who they are - together, and to express their opinions with equal protection, helping to build a rich learning community.

Our commitment is expressed in many ways:

  • Through our Penn State Values, developed by our students, faculty and staff;
  • By providing programs that embrace diversity and promote broad acceptance of differences, and ensuring equitable access to our facilities, programs, resources and services;
  • Through our support and guidance for all students through Student Affairs, Global Programs, Undergraduate Education, Office of Educational Equity, the Graduate School and more;
  • Via our Student Legal Services (814-867-4388 or your campus Office of Student Affairs), providing free confidential advice, representation and, when needed, referrals to students – including immigration matters and our Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic in our Law School (centerforimmigrantsr@pennstatelaw.psu.edu);
  • With our Affirmative Action Office (814-863-0471 or http://equity.psu.edu/reportbias), and short-term counseling services (866-799-2728 or http://ohr.psu.edu/health-matters/employee-assistance-program); and,
  • Through University Police and Public Safety officers devoted to ensuring the safety and security of every member of our community.

Our ultimate goal for all students is to assist them in receiving a world-class education and ultimately a college degree that will support them as they become vital and contributing members of society.

Some have advocated “sanctuary” campuses.  However, this is an ambiguous term that is subject to multiple interpretations and has no legal validity.  If used, it could imply that our university has the authority to exempt our campus from federal immigration laws, when in fact no university has that authority.  It also implies incorrectly a university is able to provide special protections to undocumented individuals beyond the law.  That also is not the case.  

Our University is committed to complying with all our legal obligations to local, state and federal governments. For example, we honor student privacy based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and do not release student information, except in accordance with the law.

We have strong protections and multiple services in place at Penn State.  The sanctuary term provides no additional protection, yet lacks clarity and implies protections that do not exist.

We strive to live the ideals of American democracy and of institutions of learning. These ideals are only achieved if we enjoy the rights of debate and freedom of expression in a welcoming and inclusive environment that supports all students, staff and faculty during their time on campus.

Last Updated June 21, 2018