Recent actions prove Columbia really cares

By Zoë Eitel, Editor-In-Chief

With disasters everywhere—two hurricanes, more possibly on the way and the potential deportation of 800,000 immigrants—Columbia has stepped up to show its students that it does care about them.

After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and devastated the Houston area, Columbia representatives worked together to ensure outreach to all affected students—176 in total, as reported Sept. 11 by The Chronicle.

Residence Life contacted the students with housing contracts, and advising staff contacted the rest of the students, and all students affected were accounted for.

Following President Donald Trump’s possible cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would take effect March 2018, Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden and Vice President of Student Affairs Sharon Wilson-Taylor sent a Sept. 8 collegewide email affirming the college’s support for DACA recipients and outlining important facts and resources.

“Our focus must be on assisting all members of our community through this period of uncertainty and providing students affected by this decision with as much information and support as possible,” the email read.

Though the number of DACA recipients at Columbia is unknown because the college doesn’t track that information, Illinois has the third largest number of DACA recipient residents, and Columbia has students from all over the country and world who could be affected by the end of this program, as reported on the Front Page.

Columbia’s unwavering support of its students in these matters is refreshing, important and much needed. This is the type of relationship a college should have with its students.

Despite program changes and cancellations and collegewide budget cuts, Columbia students should feel confident that their college cares about their safety, well-being and feelings.

Changes that may be upsetting should not be the only thing students focus on. Students should understand that Columbia is a community full of like-minded people who support each other, whether academically, professionally or personally. These outreach programs and announcements are not new for the college, but they really drive home the point that Columbia is a safe space for any of its students.

After Trump was announced as the president-elect Nov. 9, 2016, representatives from different departments sent out emails to their students offering support and understanding in a time that was troubling for many at Columbia, as reported Nov. 14, 2016, by The Chronicle. This was followed by a collegewide email the same day from President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim who explained his stance on the election results and was clear in his support of students.

“My fundamental responsibility is for our college and the well-being of our community. This is a moment when we, the Columbia College Chicago community, must return to our core values and principles,” Kim shared. “Let me be clear. We will protect our students, their rights and their well-being. This is our common moral obligation.”

With Hurricane Irma, Tropical Storm Jose, the possible other storms on the East Coast, California recovering from a state-of-emergency wildfire and an unpredictable president, there seem to be never-ending opportunities for Columbia to continue its outreach to students. 

The Chronicle hopes the college continues to prioritize its students’ safety, security and well-being and create a welcoming environment for those who think there is nowhere they fit in. For those people, Columbia needs to let them know it is here with open arms.