In Solidarity with Our Students on Immigration
January 31, 2017
Dear Rutgers Community,
I want to share with you my comments that will be delivered later today at the Rutgers Solidarity rally being supported by a number of our student groups.
“I commend the leaders of our Muslim student groups who have organized this demonstration and those at all of our Rutgers locations who are protesting the recent executive order on immigration, which, among its major flaws, failed to take into account the impact that it would have on American higher education and its communities.
“Academia is by its nature international, and we must be vigilant to protect and advocate for the free exchange of ideas around the world. I firmly believe that our community’s actions in November helped to protect undocumented students, and I hope that by this evening’s show of solidarity, we will have a similar impact on national conversations about immigration and refugee rights.
“We are sensitive to the particularly chilling impact this executive order has had on many in our Muslim community at Rutgers, which is one of the largest in American higher education and which is so integral to our diverse and inclusive university. Despite claims to the contrary, this order appears to unduly target Muslims and to prey upon unfounded fears. Cultural and ethnic diversity is an essential element of our identity and a particular strength of Rutgers as a public research university. We value the contributions that all our students, from every background and place of birth, make to the richness of our academic community.
“Nothing about the recent executive order changes Rutgers’ policy affirming our students’ right to privacy and safety. We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect the privacy of our student records and to provide a safe place for our entire community. We would apply these same principles to any future calls for mandatory student registration based on ethnicity or religion.
“I thank the many members of our community who set to work over the weekend identifying students and faculty affected by the travel ban and mobilizing resources to help them navigate this difficult situation. We will be watching the courts closely and will continue to provide real-time guidance to our students. We are offering assistance to students, faculty, staff and researchers who have found themselves caught in precarious situations because they were traveling when the executive order went into effect. Our goal is to help them return as quickly as possible.
“I urge you to join me in working with our Senators and Representatives in Congress to push back on immigration policies—and, indeed, all policies—that are counter to the spirit and vitality of higher education and research.”