January 29, 2017
Dear Laurentian friends—students and all:
On Friday, January 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bans the entry of citizens from seven specific nations to the United States while also suspending for at least four months the process of admission that has, until now, made allowances for refugees coming from any country to the U.S. We do not yet understand all the facts, implications, or consequences of this executive order’s terms or its means of enforcement.
It is important for our community to know, and to be reminded again, that St. Lawrence University, along with hundreds of our peer institutions in higher education with whom we are joined in myriad close connections, declares irrevocably our deeply rooted attachment to the international community of scholars. There has hardly been a time, perhaps none, in St. Lawrence’s long 160-year history that has not included international students and foreign-born faculty members. We claim the closest proximity to an international border of any private college in America, which by second nature reinforces what we stand for.
We have a responsibility to abide the law and simultaneously serve our university mission, which is not, and should never be, a mutually exclusive proposition. We are, therefore, committed at this university to protect not only the rights of speech that are so precious to the integrity of learning, but also to protect the rights of belonging to this community regardless of one’s place of birth. We will continue to do everything possible within the law to invite and give home to people of talent and promise from around the world.
Meanwhile, for those among us who are acutely and personally worried, let’s talk--let’s talk to each other. This coming week, two discussion forums will be offered on campus, one for students and one for faculty and staff. The plans and details of our community forums will be announced very soon by Dean Karl Schonberg and Dean Joe Tolliver.
Confidential support and counseling resources are ready and available through the Torrey Health Center, our chaplains’ office, or by referral through our Human Resources department. We are consulting experts in this area of law, civil liberties, and public policy to determine the meaning of this present development as it may affect future travel outside the United States for some members our campus community, particularly for return travel. When we can confidently offer advice, we will do so with all dispatch. We are also thinking ahead and will consider necessary contingencies, especially if summer plans to travel abroad need to be adjusted.
Further, let me restate St. Lawrence’s commitment to a campus that looks like the larger world while fully participating in that 21st century reality:
We admit and welcome students without regard to their immigration status. It is not, and will not be, criteria to join this academic community. We also have no restrictions, and plan none, on the eligibility of students for financial aid.
St. Lawrence complies with federal requirements in managing our international programs, but otherwise does not share sensitive information such as immigration status. We are committed to the privacy of all student and staff personnel records, consistent with federal and state laws. So unless it is required by law, we do not and shall not provide information on immigration status.
Our campus safety and security office never inquires of anyone’s immigration status; and it never takes initiative or acts on any matters that are otherwise exclusively in the domain of the U.S. Customs, Immigration, and Border Protection Services.
St. Lawrence University regards these matters with the most personal sense of caring and high priority. Our “candle in the wilderness” and system of values affirms, again and again, the dignity and worth of all Laurentians, all the time.
William L. Fox