University of Illinois officials unveiled an enrollment plan Thursday at a Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago, with protestors calling for protection of undocumented students.
Trustees want to boost system-wide enrollment to more than 90,000 students by 2021. President Tim Killeen told them that, as of 2014, nearly half of high school graduates attended college outside the state. He says they’re less likely to return home to start a career and family.
“So we are exporting talent, we’re exporting careers, at scale," he said. "We want to turn those arrows around to the other direction: not just retain, but actually attract from outside.”
Killeen says U of I needs to expand academic options and diversity while adapting to more transfer students and online courses.
However, demonstrators also called on U of I trustees to protect undocumented students by creating a “sanctuary campus.” Joe Padilla, a coordinator of UIC Student action, says these individuals are afraid to come forward because Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city isn’t enough to protect some of his fellow students.
“Instead of waiting in anxious sweat and worry, hoping for the best, we can make sure that ICE comes nowhere near our students," he said, "and that we live up to the high ambitions and commitment this university was established with."
Protesters want U of I to restrict collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, investigate any hate crimes to the full extent of the law, and ensure campus police don’t ask about immigration status unless required by court order.
Last month, President Killeen said creating a "sanctuary campus" would violate federal law.