- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

The chairman of Portland Community College’s board of directors has resigned from his elected position to protest the decision to designate the school as a “sanctuary” for undocumented students.

Gene Pitts wrote in his resignation letter to colleagues that he disagreed with the board’s decision to classify PCC as a “sanctuary college” and expressed concerns that the move politicized the school.

“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,’” Mr. Pitts wrote, The Oregonian reported.

“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,” he wrote.

Mr. Pitts submitted his resignation letter before Christmas, but the school did not release the information right away because board members needed to discuss it, PCC spokeswoman Kate Chester told The Oregonian Wednesday.

PCC, Oregon’s largest community college, voted last month to adopt the sanctuary campus label, which is a largely symbolic gesture meant to reinforce the fact that colleges themselves do not enforce federal immigration laws, Willamette Week reported. Colleges across the country have made similar designations in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

Ms. Chester said Kali Thorne-Ladd will take Mr. Pitts’ place as chair. The board will appoint a replacement until voters can elect a new representative for Zone 6 in May, Willamette Week reported.

“Gene is a strong supporter of PCC and the critical role it plays to enhance the economic vitality of the region,” Ms. Chester said. “[H]e wasn’t in alignment with the board’s recent decision to apply the term ‘sanctuary college’ to PCC, believing the term itself to be political rather than educational.”

Ms. Thorne-Ladd said she has “a lot of respect” for Mr. Pitts.

“He’s had great service and dedication to the college, and I respect him for that. While we saw differently on this issue, I think his dedication to the college has been consistent,” she told The Oregonian.

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