Editor's note: The content of a submitted letter does not necessarily represent the views of The South End, its editorial board or employees. 

Dear President Wilson, 

I cannot be quiet.

You are wrong.

In a time of uncertainty and the need for fierce moral leadership, you’ve fallen short.

Your email about your unwillingness to declare our university as a “sanctuary campus” exposes your cowardice and lack of ingenuity.

In your email, you expressed concern about the financial risk of non-compliance with state and federal governments. I found your financial concerns to be laughable as I had flashbacks to the day you received your $25,000 bonus last year. Your pay increase was not only exorbitant, but a true slap in the face to your students who struggle putting food on the table while paying the tuition increase we all endured this year. But, that’s beside the point.

President Wilson, have you asked us how we feel? Have you invested any resources into understanding the students you represent? How can you speak so piously on what is right for our students when you don’t even know who we are?

In your email, you wrote, “We stand with our values of diversity and inclusion because they provide our students with a better education and makes us better persons.” This sounds eloquent, but what does this look like in action? Not once have you outlined a strategic plan for how our university will withstand the threat the new presidential administration poses to our students.

I understand there is risk associated with declaring ourselves as a “sanctuary campus.” If calling ourselves by that term puts a red target on the backs of our undocumented students and jeopardizes their safety, then we must not refer to ourselves as such.

But, that is no excuse for inaction. As we enter unprecedented times, we look to you for courageous leadership.

President Wilson, you have an obligation to more clearly define who we are as a university and what we stand for.

With that, I ask:

  1. President Wilson, when the government comes to take one of our classmates away, will you let ICE into the classroom without a warrant?
  2. President Wilson, will you offer special counseling programs to ensure the mental wellness of those in need during this tumultuous time?
  3. President Wilson, why have you not publicly supported the BRIDGE Act?

Empathy and compassion are both nonpartisan. If we want to attract the best and the brightest to study at our university, you’re going to need to do more than these vague emails. Copying and pasting links to campus resources doesn’t qualify as an act of bravery.

We deserve more than your failure to act. We demand a real commitment and a specific plan for protecting our students. 

Lastly, President Wilson, never forget students are showing up to class every single day, unable to focus because they are unsure of what the day will bring. Speak to these students. Acknowledge their fear.  They deserve an open heart. Stand with them. Be bold.

We hope you do more to address these specific concerns in the upcoming weeks. We are watching.

Becca Cooper is the president of Wayne State's Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA is partnering with Freedom House, a Detroit nonprofit organization, and collecting personal care items for refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. 

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