"William & Mary has an enduring commitment to all of its students. In September 2017, the William & Mary Board of Visitors issued a statement of unanimous support for the university's DACA students and urged members of Congress to work together for a solution that would allow W&M's DACA students to finish their educations uninterrupted. The university community, myself included, stand by the Board's statement. We will continue to do all that we can to support our DACA students, who are valued members of the W&M community."
President Katherine A. Rowe
How does W&M support students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status?
The welfare of our students, faculty, and staff is William & Mary’s priority. W&M President Katherine Rowe has publicly expressed her support for students with DACA status:
That support continues.
Applicants who have DACA status may be admitted to W&M for undergraduate or graduate study through standard admissions processes and under Virginia law. Those who meet domicile requirements may be granted in-state tuition rates, which is consistent with guidance from the Virginia Attorney General's Office.
Students at W&M are eligible for all campus services, regardless of their immigration status. These include academic support through the Dean of Students and Office of Academic Advising and confidential counseling through the W&M Counseling Center. The Advisory and Support Council supports students with DACA status.
With regard to the release of any information about students, W&M is highly protective of students’ rights. Not only is the safeguarding for information required by state and federal law, most notably the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA), we also believe it is in the best interests of our students, their families and the institution as a whole.
Accordingly, we do not provide information on a student’s citizenship or immigration status to any person, organization or government agency, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), except as required by law. This means that such information will not be disclosed in the absence of a state or federal law requiring the university to provide such information; a valid subpoena; or a court-issued warrant for that specific information. This is discussed in greater detail in the third question.
What other steps has the W&M leadership taken to support DACA and international students in general?
W&M leadership has taken many steps to support our enrolled international and DACA students.
In September 2019, President Katherine Rowe joined other university presidents in signing a letter from the American Council on Education that urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation, in both the House and Senate, to provide permanent protection for Dreamers.
We remain in regular communication with our DACA and undocumented students including through this online resource hub. This site includes background on the issue, current information on legislation and details about additional resources such as free information sessions and workshops with immigration attorneys as well as a list of contacts and advocacy groups.
- In 2016 William & Mary's president joined other university presidents in Virginia and across the country in signing a letter of support for DACA students.
- Soon after the Trump administration announced the Executive Order on immigration, then President Taylor Reveley sent a campus-wide email affirming the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and the international community.
- In February 2017, Reveley also joined other presidents in signing a letter from the American Council on Education that expressed support for international students and concern for the administration’s Executive Order on immigration. That same month, as part of a pending lawsuit involving the Commonwealth of Virginia, Reveley submitted an affidavit on the impact the Executive Order has had on public universities in Virginia. He submitted the affidavit as chair of the state’s Council of Presidents and at the request of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
- Due to the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction on the Executive Order. Reveley’s affidavit was cited in the court’s
- On September 5, 2018, Reveley sent a second campus-wide email reaffirming William & Mary's unwavering support for our DACA students.
To what extent do laws like FERPA restrict W&M’s ability to divulge information on DACA students?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the disclosure of education records of all students to outside parties, including federal agents, without permission from the student, unless there is a valid judicial warrant, subpoena, court order or other legal requirement to do so. All William & Mary employees are required by law to abide by FERPA.
Education records, under FERPA, are documents, files, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by the university. Information protected under FERPA includes a student’s class schedules, information on family members, information on citizenship or immigration status, and other such information.
The protections under FERPA apply to all students who are or have been in attendance at W&M, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. This includes students with DACA status.
FERPA does permit the disclosure of information deemed by the university to be "Directory Information" without written consent. At William & Mary, directory information does not include citizenship or immigration status.
However, students may prohibit the release of directory information by completing the Request for Confidentiality Form (pdf). This request will remain on file indefinitely until written notice is submitted by the student to remove the confidentiality request.
*Note: For students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status (i.e. on “student visas”), the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) requires that certain information be provided to the Department of Homeland Security. Students agree to this disclosure of information when they sign their I-20 or DS-2019 Form (visa eligibility certificates). This exemption to FERPA only allows the disclosure of certain information for students in F-1 and J-1 status to the Department of Homeland Security. It does not apply to students in any other status, including DACA status. Their information is protected by FERPA in the same manner as a student who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
Has W&M declared itself a “Sanctuary Campus”?
Like nearly all public institutions in the country – including all state universities in Virginia – William & Mary has not declared itself a “Sanctuary Campus.” As a state institution, if there are changes to federal policy regarding DACA, the university will look to Virginia’s Attorney General for guidance. In the meantime, W&M will continue provide our DACA students with as much support as is possible. As stated already in this document, W&M Police are not an immigration enforcement authority, nor does the university release immigration status of students unless required to by law, such as a subpoena or warrant.
Domicile (In-State Tuition)
William & Mary Support
The Advisory and Support Council provides support and advocacy efforts at W&M for our students with DACA. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for responses to questions related to DACA students at William & Mary, resources and support for the international community, as well as W&M Police protocol on immigration matters.
Center for Student Diversity - The Center for Student Diversity serves as a vital link where students from diverse backgrounds can find a sense of community and everyone can learn about the diversity of our community.
WMFIRE - WMFIRE (formerly known as UndocuTribe) addresses the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant, migrant, and undocumented community-at-large through education, empowerment, and action.