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In a letter to the campus community released yesterday, University of Arizona president Robert N. Shelton declares that the passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, raises “troubling questions about how SB 1070 will affect the University’s international community.”

“The health and safety of our international students, faculty and professional staff are priorities of the highest order for us,” Shelton says, “and … we intend to put in place whatever procedures are necessary to ensure their safety and free movement on campus and in our community.” He further pledges to “do everything possible to ensure that these students continue to feel welcomed and respected, despite the unmistakably negative message that this bill sends to many of them.”

Shelton says he has already received word that several out-of-state students — every one of them an honors student — will be transferring to other universities as a result of the bill’s passage. “This should,” he says, “sadden anyone who cares about attracting the best and brightest students to Arizona.”

The University of Arizona police department will, he says, “be receiving extensive training” on SB 1070, and will be instructed “that individuals may not be stopped solely on the basis of race, color or national origin.” But while he is, he says, “completely confident that no one need fear the way that UAPD will approach the application of this law, I nevertheless appreciate the anxiety that friends and colleagues are feeling. It is a concern and fear that no one should have to harbor.”

He closes the letter by saying that the state Board of Regents “will be discussing the implications of SB1070” at its meeting this week.

A sweeping new immigration enforcement bill signed into law by the governor of Arizona on Friday has met with immediate opposition from students and others around the nation.

The law, known as SB 1070, has many elements, but its most controversial is a mandate that police officers to detain people they believe to be in the United States illegally.

President Obama on Friday described the law as a threat to “trust between police and our communities” and to “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” The Archbishop of Los Angeles has compared the law’s provisions to Nazism.

SB 1070 provoked mass student protests even before it was signed — on Thursday morning more than a thousand Phoenix-area high school students walked out of classes and marched on the state capitol to demand that governor Jan Brewer veto the bill.

Dream Activist, a website by and for students organizing for immigration reform, reports that rallies and vigils were planned for Saturday in California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Washington DC.

Opponents of the law are using the hashtags #SB1070 and #LegalizeAZ on Twitter.

Update | Add Connecticut to the list of states hosting anti-SB1070 protests — Yale students staged a mock ICE raid on campus on Thursday.

So this afternoon Serena Unrein, the Executive Director of the Arizona Students’ Association and a graduate of Arizona State University, tweeted that she was

Seriously contemplating moving to a new state right now. You know, one that won’t cut every vital service we have. This budget is NOT okay.

The budget she was referring to, which is currently moving toward adoption by the Republican-controlled state legislature, would end full-day kindergarten in the state. It would cut more than a third of a million Arizonans from the state’s health care rolls, including nearly fifty thousand children. It would propose that voters defund a land conservation program and eliminate an early childhood education program.

State Senator Jack W. Harper saw Unrein’s comment, and was moved to reply. That reply?

Drive safely

Class. Pure class.

By the way, Harper deleted his tweet after Unrein responded to it. Cute.

Here’s a story with a happy ending.

Two weeks ago, Jacob Miller, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, was arrested on campus. His crime? Chalking.

Miller, along with a number of other students, had been writing slogans and drawings on the university’s sidewalks in chalk to promote a rally protesting the commercialization of higher education. A university employee called the police, and Miller was arrested for criminal damage and disturbing an educational institution.

The two charges were each class one misdemeanors, and carried a combined maximum penalty of a year in prison and $5,000 in fines. Miller had been identified through video surveillance footage.

The arrest sparked a huge uproar on campus. The following weekend a group of students began buying sidewalk chalk in bulk and handing it out by the bucketful on campus. Early on Monday morning a Poli Sci major named Evan Lisull was was arrested for writing the slogans “Chalk is Speech” and “Freedom of Expression” on campus sidewalks.

Lisull’s arrest seemed likely to escalate the situation further, but instead it brought the university to its senses. On Monday afternoon UA president Robert Shelton instructed campus police to drop all charges against the two students, and declared that the university would no longer treat chalking as a criminal matter.

UA said at the time that it would in the future handle chalking complaints “as possible Code of Conduct violations through the Dean of Students Office,” but soon it was in full retreat, announcing this week that chalkers would not face disciplinary consequences of any kind.

Chalk one up for … well, you know.

The Arizona Students’ Association and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona have put up a powerful slideshow on the University of Arizona’s proposed tuition increase:

What Does $1,100 Mean To You?

The idea behind the slideshow is simple: Let students speak directly to the increase would change their lives. Real students, real impact.

The statements speak to a wide variety of effects — “a third job,” “my little brother’s ability to come here,” “a plane ticket to visit my dad.” Each tells a personal story, and each gives that story a human face.

It’s a great, powerful statement. Go look.

And if you’re running an anti-tuition campaign of your own, maybe you should bring a camera and a whiteboard (or a pad and sharpie) to your next rally.

About This Blog

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StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out AngusJohnston.com.

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