Harvard’s Khurana Says He Is ‘Committed to Serving’ Undocumented Students

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Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. (Photo courtesy: The Harvard Crimson/ Megan M. Ross

CAMBRIDGE, MA–Rakesh Khurana, Dean of the Harvard College,said he will prioritize protecting Harvard’s undocumented undergraduates as President-elect Donald Trump transitions into office, though he did not offer specific plans, reported The Harvard Crimson

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson last week, Khurana said Loc Truong, the Office of Student Life’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programs, is now a “point person” for undocumented students’ concerns.

Khurana added that he, Truong, and Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair have been meeting individually with students since “almost immediately after the election,” reported the Harvard Crimson.

Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana is pictured outside University Hall at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana is pictured outside University Hall at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Many people at Harvard and around the United States have criticized Trump for rhetoric targeting immigrants and Muslims, the Harvard newspaper reported.  During his campaign, Trump suggested banning Muslims from entering the country, proposed deporting millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants, and repeatedly pledged to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Khurana said he empathizes with groups that Trump specifically targeted throughout his campaign.

“I think there’s been a significant amount of focus on supporting [undocumented] students at this time of uncertainty,” Khurana said as reported by the Harvard Crimson.

In the weeks since the election, Harvard faculty and students have rallied in support of undocumented students. A petition calling on Harvard administrators to support undocumented population has garnered more than 4,000 signatures, and has received endorsements from at least three academic departments, according to the Harvard newspaper.

The petition demands the College create an office specifically meant to cater to undocumented student needs, and for the OSL to immediately hire a replacement for Emelyn A. dela Pena, the College’s former associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion, the newspaper said.

Khurana did not specify whether or not the College will create a new office for undocumented students, but said the College recently hired a consultant to assist in the search process for dela Pena’s replacement, the newspaper reported.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. (Photo courtesy: The Harvard Crimson/ Megan M. Ross
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana. (Photo courtesy: The Harvard Crimson/ Megan M. Ross

“Our mission, whatever their immigration status, where they were born, they are Harvard,” Khurana told the Harvard Crimson.

Students and professors across the University have largely criticized Trump’s candidacy and transition into the presidency. An overwhelming majority of undergraduates—about 87 percent—supported Hillary Clinton ahead of the election, and many people reacted to Trump’s victory with shock and anger.

“Hate has no place at Harvard,” Khurana told the Harvard newspaper. “I think that we live in a time of uncertainty and fear, and Harvard has a unique opportunity to do what it always has done, which is stand tall and stand up for some really foundational values that I think are the bedrock of our country.”

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