Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
Once again, I must write to you about government action negatively affecting our University community. The differences between the new executive order on immigration and refugee policies issued today and the now superseded January order (about which I wrote earlier) may or may not prove significant in the ultimate judicial determination of the order’s legality. Nevertheless, the order remains deeply disturbing for all the same reasons the University, along with dozens of other colleges and universities, has set forth in various statements, letters, and amicus briefs over the past several weeks.
Beyond the harmful direct effects, the ban seriously interferes with the University’s commitment to participate in the international exchange of information and ideas, which is dependent on our ability to invite students and scholars into our community. Moreover, the alarming interactions between policies such as this and the rise of private acts of intolerance—against all minorities—just cannot be ignored. We are all struggling to cope with a new reality of waning tolerance. There are now far too many examples, some very close to home, of victims of invidious discrimination and unjust stereotypes. The ban may be temporary, but we know from hard experience that these kinds of harms will be permanent. While none of us takes lightly the nation’s needs for preserving security, there are countless unanswered questions and lingering confusion about the national security rationale for targeting the states covered by the executive order.
As we have said many times and on many occasions, we will continue to support students, faculty, and visiting scholars from the now six designated countries, and all others in our community who may be harmed by this policy. Please consult this post from Executive Vice President for University Life Suzanne Goldberg providing a detailed description of available resources, including private information and discussion sessions, and information on travel from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).
Rest assured, we will in every possible way both affirm our core values and embrace those who bear the brunt of these policies.
Lee C. Bollinger