Amid DACA rollback, Harvard's president reflects on school's diversity

Harvard president on DACA

Harvard University's president Drew Faust is taking a stand against President Trump's decision to end the DACA program. The program, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in this country as children, means they can work or go to school without fear of deportation.

Mr. Trump's decision will directly affect dozens of current Harvard students. Faust wrote in a message to the Harvard community, "This cruel policy recognizes neither justice nor mercy." She went on to promise, "The University will maintain its existing financial aid policies and provide funding to students regardless of immigration status."

Faust is Harvard University's 28th president and the first woman to lead the school. She joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss why she's fighting against the DACA repeal, how the school's demographic has changed in the last decade and the importance of making sure campuses are a place where sexual assault victims feel they can come forward. 

Faust said the issue of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children first came to her attention just after she became Harvard's president. 

"A group of undocumented immigrants came to see me and described their lives. And here were these Harvard students, extraordinary scholars, who had distinguished themselves in high school," Faust said. "Their lives were just suffused with the uncertainty and fear that they might be picked up on the street one day -- they might be sent back to countries they'd never known."

Faust said she's been speaking out on, writing and lobbying about this issue for a decade.

Harvard expects majority "non-white" enrollment for fall freshman class

"The DACA program gave these students a measure of relief from that uncertainty," Faust said. "I do hope there will be an act that will protect these students but in the meantime they're now cast back into tremendous uncertainty and anxiety."

Another Obama-era rollback affecting college campuses was revealed Thursday when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her intention to rescind President Obama's 2011 guidelines for schools investigating campus sexual misconduct. Those guidelines were a response to alarming rates of campus sexual violence and aimed to lower the standard of proof in sexual assault cases. The Trump administration and critics of the guidelines say they unjustly favor the accuser. 

"We've realized the dimensions of the problem on our campus and we've spent a lot of time working on prevention," Faust said. "I feel that we have a strong policy in place now that addresses this, that urges people who feel they've experienced sexual assault to come forward. This is a very important element of it. A lot of individuals were not even seeking help."

Faust, who has been president of the elite university since 2007, will end her tenure as president later this year. In that time, she says Harvard has "become much more diverse in every dimension" and attributes much of that this to a huge increase in financial aid.

"The class that just entered, about 25 percent of that class comes with no parental contribution – paying nothing towards their education – because they come from families making less than $65,000 a year," Faust said. "We have many more first generation students and I think that is one of the most important changes at the university over the last decade and one I feel very proud of."