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The history of Dominican education is rooted in its service to immigrant communities, initially the Irish lead miners of the rural Midwest. When, on the invitation of Cardinal Mundelein, the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters moved the college to Illinois in 1922, it was “to give the opportunities of higher education to the many,” with the understanding that “neither wealth, nor age, nor race would be of any advantage ... or provide a hindrance.”

Today, Dominican University is one of the most diverse private, four-year institutions in the state of Illinois, and one of the first universities in the country to publicly welcome and financially support students regardless of immigration and documentation status.

For the Dominican community, the safety of immigrants and other marginalized student groups transcends politics. It is a human rights issue, guided by faith. While we deeply respect the democratic process and the freedom of expression that grounds the academy, we are compelled, by mission, to advocate for, and walk alongside, our undocumented students, their families and their communities. Accompaniment is the foundation of sanctuary at Dominican, and our support for students at risk strengthens the university experience for all students.


The history of the modern sanctuary movement dates back to the 1980s, when the Catholic Church and other religious institutions provided refuge to thousands of undocumented immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador who fled civil unrest at home, but were denied access in the United States. As the movement spread, cities across the nation joined in solidarity, passing resolutions to overlook the immigration status of residents.

Recently, students nationwide have called for their universities to designate themselves as sanctuary campuses. This term mirrors the classification of sanctuary cities, and while it does not promise that universities will provide refuge for undocumented immigrants, it does challenge campuses to do what they can, within the law, to protect residents from deportation. As a Catholic university, committed to social justice, Dominican seeks to be part of this movement. In fact, we view such advocacy as a moral imperative.


WHEREAS, Dominican University is firm in its commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and equal protection of all students under the law;

WHEREAS, we recognize and stand against the escalating number of hate crimes reported nationwide and in our city; and

WHEREAS, we affirm and celebrate our support for all students, faculty, staff and their families—regardless of national origin, race, religion, sexual identity or immigration status; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Dominican University commits to a campus climate and an academic experience that promote the security and well-being of all persons, especially those who are underrepresented and struggling for voice and opportunity.

To that end, as directed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the university will not provide access to student information, including any records that identify immigration status, except as required by federal, state or local laws, and only in the presence of formal documentation.

FURTHER, we affirm and will advance, to the extent possible, the 2011 Ruling by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which notes that law enforcement and ICE officials should enter the campus for law enforcement purposes without the permission of the university only under the most exigent and compelling circumstances.

FURTHER STILL, the university will continue to support undocumented students—to promote academic access and success, provide financial aid, as possible, and ensure that Dominican University is a welcoming and safe environment for all, regardless of background.

This Resolution stands as a contemporary witness to the mission of Dominican University in practice. It represents a commitment by the university to accompany students at risk and advocate on their behalf.

The Resolution is recommended by the University Committee on Climate, Equity, and Inclusion, endorsed by the President’s Diversity Advisory Council, and approved by the Board of Trustees.

December 15, 2016