PCC's board chair resigned in protest over 'sanctuary college' designation

Article author: 
Andrew Theen
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

The chairman of Portland Community College's board resigned from his elected position to protest what he called a political decision to classify the school a "sanctuary" for undocumented students.

Gene Pitts, who represented eastern Washington County and Southwest Portland on the board, submitted his resignation letter...

PCC, the state's largest post-secondary institution, had voted to adopt the sanctuary campus label at the urging of its student body, and with the support of first-year president Mark Mitsui.

The board held a special meeting Dec. 20 at its Sylvania campus to consider the largely symbolic gesture....to publicly declare the schools would not help enforce federal immigration laws.

Pitts did not attend the meeting, according to vice-chair Kali Thorne-Ladd...

"I have spoken to each of you, so it should not be a surprise that I was not aligned with the College's decision to deem itself a 'sanctuary college,'" Pitts wrote in his resignation letter sent on the same day as the special meeting.

"As I've shared with you, I felt that the decision to use the term 'sanctuary college' politicizes the college, places risk on the backs of the 40+ percent of the college's students that receive Pell grant monies (and ultimately on the college's Federal funding), and alienates a percentage of voters as we approach the college's next bond campaign."...

"I have a lot of respect for Gene," she said in an interview. "He's had great service and dedication to the college...

Kate Chester, a PCC spokeswoman, said school did not release information about his resignation over the holidays...

The board will vote to appoint Pitts' replacement when it meets Jan. 19...