December 01, 2016

St. Catherine University joins national initiatives in support of undocumented immigrant students

President ReBecca Roloff. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10, By Rebecca Studios LLC.

St. Catherine University President ReBecca Roloff has joined presidents of Catholic, public and private colleges and universities across the nation in urging U.S. leaders to support continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrant students.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) issued a statement Nov. 30 signed by more than 90 presidents of member institutions. Organized by their President, David Oxtoby, Pomona College posted a statement Nov. 21 that has since been signed by more than 400 public and private college and university presidents.

The DACA program, created by an executive action by President Obama in 2012, gave young people registering with the program temporary relief from the possibility of deportation and a two-year work permit. According to InsideHigherEd, more than 700,000 young people are registered with the program.

ACCU leaders stated, “Our colleges and universities share a long history of educating students from a diverse array of socioeconomic, geographical, and ethnic backgrounds, often welcoming those on society’s margins, especially immigrants and underprivileged populations. Today, Catholic institutions of higher education continue this mission and legacy. Our college and university communities are home to students from around the world who seek to contribute to American society, to the life and mission of the Church, and to their own formation and growth by pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.”

St. Catherine University was founded more than 100 years ago by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with the vision to provide an excellent education to young women, many of whom were daughters of immigrants.

With a foundation in social justice, women-centered education and the liberal arts, St. Catherine has, throughout its history, served diverse students in an environment that emphasizes intellectual inquiry and social teaching and challenges students to transformational leadership. In 2016, first generation college students make up 33 percent of the University’s undergraduate population and over 37 percent are multicultural.

“The Sisters of St. Joseph showed us early how to live the social justice vision of the Catholic Faith,” said President Roloff. “It is the DNA of this institution and is a phenomenal source of strength.

"The call for us to be just and caring leaders and influencers in whatever our chosen profession or vocation – and to help other women, especially young women, achieve their potential – has never been more critical to the future of our families and society. None of us want to backtrack on the gains that have been made, but more importantly we want and need to keep fighting for the gains that have yet to be made. Yes, the path appears to some to be more difficult, but there is a path.

"I believe the mission of St. Catherine University has never been more important or relevant in the world as it is today. The world demands, needs and expects our leadership.”

The Pomona College statement proposes college and university presidents meet with U.S. leaders to discuss the issue, and also urges business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented immigrant students.

Learn more

“A Statement from Leaders in Catholic Higher Education," download the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities statement at their website.

“College & University Presidents Call for U.S. to Uphold and Continue DACA,” read the full statement at Pomona College’s website.