President Harvey Kesselman Announces Agreement on ‘Stockton Safe'

For Immediate Release

Contact:         Maryjane Briant
                        News and Media Relations Director
                        Galloway, N.J. 08205
                        (609) 652-4593

Galloway, N.J. - Stockton University today issued this statement by President Harvey Kesselman, following productive talks with student leaders that led to the Board of Trustees endorsing an agreement that outlines protections for undocumented members of the Stockton community:

Stockton University has agreed that the university is “Stockton Safe,” providing a safe zone for all students, faculty, and staff regardless of immigration status. The university, to the fullest extent permitted by law, protects the identity and information of all members of our community.

Stockton’s approach aligns with the actions of the New Jersey Legislature, which last week passed resolutions affirming that college campuses should “continue to serve as a safe zone and resource center for students and their families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination.”

As a safe zone, Stockton offers the measures that the Student Senate resolution sought.

Student leaders including Senate President Maryam Sarhan, Unified Black Students Society (UBSS) President Mahalia Bazile, student Kaltoum Alibrahimi, student trustee Cristian Moreno and alternate student trustee Ike Ejikeme represented their constituents in as articulate and intense a manner as possible and I could not be more proud to be the president of this institution, having students who acted as they did.

The Stockton Safe agreement we reached includes these measures:

  • Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Stockton already protects the academic records of all students, including any at-risk groups.  The Office of General Counsel will be designated to serve as the primary contact for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students concerned about their educational situations and will coordinate with Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and other offices as needed. All counseling services are confidential, as explicitly stated on Stockton’s website.

  • The university is identifying appropriate options to provide legal support and services to Stockton students based on their immigration status.

  • In the enforcement of civil immigration laws, the Stockton Police, faculty, and staff do not inquire about or record an individual’s immigration status and they do not actively participate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Civil Border Patrol activities.

  • Any engagement with ICE on campus will be required to follow due legal process, including requiring a valid subpoena or warrant, or court order, where appropriate.

  • The university will advocate that ICE continue its ‘sensitive locations’ policies, which stipulate that enforcement actions generally are not to take place at schools, churches and similar sites. Stockton will also educate the university community about these policies.

  • As a public institution, Stockton’s public spaces are open to the general population. However, residential dormitories are subject to university rules/regulations that protect privacy and enhance security by limiting who, when, and for what purpose non-student/residents are allowed access. Federal authorities are not allowed into residential dormitories without a valid warrant.

  • Immigration status is not now, nor will it be in the future, a factor in student housing decisions. Stockton does not discriminate in any student housing decisions.

  • The university will invest in more faculty and staff training to support undocumented students, as the Student Senate resolution requested. The provost has convened a faculty work group to develop and implement workshops for faculty and staff to assist them in supporting diversity and inclusion on campus.  The group will specifically address the unique needs of undocumented students. 

  • In addition, Stockton recently established a “Bias-Free Initiative” to inform members of the campus community where to report incidences of bias, along with other important information. The community can learn more about how to respond to bias, hate, harassment or intimidation. A bias-response team will be functional by April 17 and additional training will be incorporated into new student orientation and training for student leaders by the end of the academic year.

  • Stockton’s support for undocumented students also includes extending in-state tuition rates to them, which the university has done since the New Jersey Dream Act became law and Stockton will continue to do so.

We are grateful that our community, working together, has come to this agreement and that the state Senate and Assembly are working to support New Jersey’s college students, faculty and staff on this vital issue.  We will continue to advocate for policies in support of undocumented students.