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U of I System message on sanctuary campus petitions  

December 6, 2016 

The following message was sent today to faculty, staff and students regarding petitions seeking to declare the University of Illinois System’s three universities as sanctuary campuses.

Dear faculty, staff and students:

In the weeks since November’s election, there has been a call across the country by many individuals and groups to declare college campuses as sanctuaries for undocumented students, including petition drives at each of the University of Illinois System’s three universities. These petitions, which we have reviewed carefully, raise a myriad of definitional and legal questions.

We have taken time to examine the complex issues at hand. As a public institution of higher education, we must uphold state and federal laws. We cannot declare our campuses as sanctuaries, as the concept is not well specified and may actually jeopardize our institution. However, we will continue to do everything we can within the law to reassure, support and protect our students. Let us be clear … that includes our undocumented students.

Since the U of I’s land-grant founding, the core of our mission has been centered squarely on students, ensuring that every deserving young person has equal access to pursue his or her dreams through educational attainment.

In the years since, our commitment to inclusion and diversity has grown. We are expanding opportunities that prepare our students for an increasingly global workplace by exposing them to people they might not otherwise have met and ideas that they may have never considered.

We are proud that the U of I System is already a leader in supporting undocumented students. Consistent with current practices, we will continue to protect student and employee confidential information to the fullest extent allowed by law. We also support legislation that would give four-year public universities in Illinois the legal authority to provide institutional financial aid for undocumented students. The bill would add to the support services we already have in place to help them succeed.

Serving students, regardless of their background, is at the forefront of who we are and what we have always been. The University of Illinois System will continue to participate in conversations about these issues at the state and national level. We pledge to advocate for and work to protect our undocumented students. We hope you will join us.


Tim Killeen, President, University of Illinois System

Barb Wilson, Executive Vice President, University of Illinois System

Michael Amiridis, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Robert Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Susan Koch, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Springfield            


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.


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